The fourth device was suppressive election procedures. This included the use of “multiple ballots.” That is, a Republican voter might be required to cast a ballot in up to eight separate locations – or sometimes to vote for each individual Republican on the ballot at a separate location – before the ballot would be counted. Democratic officials often failed to inform black voters of this complicated procedure and their ballots were therefore disqualified. 320 Democrats also used what were called “hide-and-seek polling places,” moving voting boxes to unknown locations at the last minute and then posting armed guards in case any black should stumble upon the hidden voting box. Democrats used discriminatory literacy tests to prevent African Americans from voting.
The fifth device included the use of so-called Black Codes to restrict the freedoms and economic opportunities of blacks. Rep. Robert Brown Elliott reported:
Among the first acts of legislation adopted by several of the southern Democratic States were laws which imposed upon the colored race onerous oppressive disabilities and burdens and curtailed their rights in the pursuit of life, liberty, and property to such an extent that their freedom was of little value. . . . They colored citizens were, in some States, forbidden to appear in the towns. . . . They were required to reside on and cultivate the soil – without the right to purchase or own it. They were excluded from any occupations of gain i.e., paying jobs and were not permitted to give testimony in the courts in any case where a white man was a party.
Beginning as early as 1865, southern Democrats passed Black Codes to prevent blacks from holding office, owning agricultural property, entering towns without permission, serving on juries, racially intermarrying, or voting. They even passed – in flagrant violation of the U. S. Constitution – laws preventing blacks from owning knifes or firearms, thus exposing them to Klan violence without any way to defend themselves. National observers at that time concluded that the Democratic South was simply trying to institute a new form of slavery through the use of these Black Codes. Representative Richard Cain of South Carolina agreed: republican U. S. rep. Robert brown Elliott democratic laws left blacks unprotected against the Klan.
When the government of the United States had made the black man free – when Congress, in the greatness of its magnanimity generosity prepared to give to every class of men their rights, and in reconstructing the southern States guaranteed to all the people their liberties – you Democrats refused to acquiesce in agree to the laws enacted by Congress – you Democrats refused to “accept the situation” – to recognize the rights of that class of men in the land. You sought to make the reconstruction acts a nullity, if possible. You sought to re-enslave the black man by every means in your power.