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The Cost of the Vote

George Elmore and the Battle for the Ballot

Carolyn Click



Published: Jan 14 2025


Published: Jan 14 2025

OA Ebook
Published: Jan 14 2025


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

One man's struggle for the ballot reveals the sacrifices of those who shaped the civil rights movement in the American South

On August 13, 1946, George Elmore arrived at his regular polling place in Columbia, South Carolina. He requested a ballot to vote in the Democratic Party primary but was turned away. While the general election would not occur until November, everyone in South Carolina understood that the results of the election would really be decided on that late summer afternoon. South Carolina was a one-party state, and the segregationist Democratic Party had endured as the uncontested rulers of state politics since the end of political Reconstruction in the late 1870s. No Black man or woman had cast a meaningful ballot in South Carolina in nearly as long. For Elmore and others in the state, the day had come to reclaim this most precious American right.

Carolyn Click's The Cost of the Vote centers on Elmore and the activists and lawyers who successfully challenged the all-white primary in South Carolina. Although Elmore's court challenge would prove successful, he paid a steep personal price. He died a decade after the case, ruined financially, and his family was scattered because of the hostility provoked by his activism. The political rewards for Black voters also remained long in coming, and Elmore would not survive to see the full flowering of the 1960s voting rights movement.

The Cost of the Vote is the story of a man who believed, with uncommon boldness, that he and other Black Americans were guaranteed the right to vote.

A native of Virginia, Carolyn Click is a long-time journalist and teacher. She was the Virginia editor for United Press International and a reporter at the Roanoke Times & World-News before coming to the State newspaper in 1994, where she received the Knight Ridder Award of Excellence in 2003 for coverage of civil rights. Since 2016, Click has taught in the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications and in the university's Honors College.

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