Are Republicans Trying to Bring Back the Poll Tax?

"Too poor to vote: how Alabama's 'new poll tax' bars thousands of people from voting" - a caller awakened me to this story in The Guardian from Wednesday October 4th and it's pretty shocking.

Yes, poll tax might have originated in Alabama. The poll taxes came out of the South during Reconstruction as a way of keeping poor people - particularly poor black people - from voting.

So Connor Sheets writing in The Guardian:

"Randi Lynn Williams assumes she will never be able to afford to vote again."

Opening sentence. Well, why should anybody have to afford to vote? The 24th amendment says no more poll taxes - it is specifically outlawed in the Constitution. But Randi Lynn Williams, she got in trouble with the law and she lives in Alabama which is one of eight states which includes Nevada, Tennessee and a few others where you may not vote if you owe the government money.

You haven't paid a fine? Haven't paid a fee? Haven't paid a traffic ticket? Haven't paid restitution to the victim of a crime? Haven't paid a fee to the state? You may not vote. Connor Sheets notes...

"In 1964, the 24th amendment abolished the poll tax, but to this day in Alabama, money keeps thousands of people away from the ballot box."

So many thousands of people, just the felons who can't vote are 286,266 people, that's 7.62% of the state's population.

The University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Yale Universities all contributed researchers to look into this situation, what's going on in Alabama. The research paper that they published in June in the Journal of Legal Studies says...

"A majority of all ex-felons in Alabama - white, black, or otherwise - cannot vote because of a debt they owe to the state."

Rich people can buy the right to vote, poor people can't.

"In May, Governor Kay Ivey signed a law called the Definition of Moral Turpitude Act...

The policy requiring them to first pay off any fees, fines and restitution has resulted in a sizeable population of Alabama felons who have not committed crimes that would have resulted in them losing the franchise under the new law, yet they remain unable to restore their voting rights solely because of their financial situation. "

Can't afford to pay your fines? Can't vote in Alabama. that's 286,266 disenfranchised felons, 143,924 of them black disenfranchised felons who make up 15.11% of that state's African-American population.

"Alexandria Parrish, an attorney with Evans Law Firm in Homewood, has years of experience representing clients who have been criminally disenfranchised. She sees the practice as a way to keep poor and black people away from the ballot box."

She said, "This is like Jim Crow 2.0. They can keep them from voting."

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York says that...

"The fact that Alabama 'links voting to the ability to pay' has a disparate impact on black felons that indirectly suppresses the vote of African Americans who are not felons."

This is a problem.


Legend 5 years 26 weeks ago

Fascism is in full march forward. Tweet denouncements of the Democrats, claim Government shutdown is their idea. Even though you said that a shut down would be good for the country. Blame them for it. 1% owned mainstream media covers you. Trolls obviously do not see what is going on. Fucking blind as they can be. The tax bill will pass. Billionaires will not hesitate to dump more billions into advertising and bribes as its ROI is more that 10:1. You will see children be medically disabled and starving to death in this once great country. Make America < Great Again.

Oldskoold's picture
Oldskoold 5 years 26 weeks ago

I can't argue with LEGEND'S synopsis! I am afraid of what's to come unless Mueller can wrap this up soon and arrest everyone in the White House. We are seeing the crescendo of the "brainwashing operation" that started with Rush Limbaugh and continued on steroids with FOX. Damn shame Clinton let the FCC get away!!!! When I first heard him (Rush) on AM in the late 80's I thought; well he won't last long. I surely hate I was wrong! I just gave the American people more credit then and I was so incorrect. I didn't factor in the assault on education and the aftermath of stupid/hateful citizens buying that wagon load of shit. There will be " nashing of teeth" when the dumbasses realize what they have done. It is a tightrope we must walk on too in attempting to help them figure it out on their own. No way to tell them since it is hard to admit you were wrong. They want Armegaddon anyway..... Onward Christian Soldiers!!!! LOL! No; LMAO! Hell will be crowded with Republican Faschist!

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 years 26 weeks ago

Tyranny is abound

T'was ever thus

PaulHosse's picture
PaulHosse 5 years 26 weeks ago

Yes, the "Poll Tax" did orginate in Alabama, and spread throughout the South, Not mentioned (an honest oversight I'm sure), is that it was implemented by Democrat politicans. Of course, that's not my point---though a subtle reminder---is that there will be a new round of tax hikes on what remains of the "middle class", which perhaps should be renamed the "The Survivors Club" and are more the upper tier of the working poor. Whether the GOPers or Democrats will play the heavy this go around doesn't really matter since both parties are merely the middlemen for the same corporate masters. Ultimately, they are the one's who will benefit while the "unwashed masses" strain a little more to support the ruling Oligarchy and the political class. Though it will never happen, I personally believe we would fair better under a consumption or maybe even a flat tax, I've always thought that we Americans should have the final say in any tax increase, be it federal, state, or local since we are the ones who will either benefit or suffer (this includes pay raises too) and will have to live with the consequences either way. Certainally, no one can realistically argue that the political class is an unpartical arbiter.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 5 years 25 weeks ago

Perhaps a side issue, but it is one that is very troubling, and is common in the media marketed to liberals. It's difficult to discuss due to the hyper-sensitivity of the issue, but it needs to be addressed.

What is the reasoning behind contending that the measures that worsen conditions for the poor and low-income harm "especially people of color?" Why would they reach that conclusion? Surely they know (as the statistics show) that the majority of US poor are white. Millions of these live in the vast spaces between cities, where services have always been scarce-to-nonexistent, and schools have always been grossly under-funded.

The poor are keenly aware that it was Democrats who brought the war on the poor to fruition, and that middle class liberals simply dumped the issue of real US poverty. Is some reason that media disappears white poverty or, in fact, do even (US) liberals think that poor white people are something less than humans (and therefore not qualified for fundamental human rights protections)? These are issues that beg for mature discussion.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 5 years 25 weeks ago

A poll tax is just another barrier when it comes to the "rights" of the poor to vote. Still, in desperately trying to find a "silver lining," for whom could the poor vote today, when no candidates, no party, represents their greatest concerns?

Kilosqrd's picture
Kilosqrd 5 years 25 weeks ago

"What is the reasoning behind contending that the measures that worsen conditions for the poor and low-income harm "especially people of color?" Why would they reach that conclusion?" DHB

The democrats and the democrat party know that they need a permanent underclass to continue to vote for them. The less people need government assistance, the less they need the democrat party. This is why democrats (for the most part) favor open borders. Promise people healthcare bennies, welfare and food stamps, etc. Only just enough to keep them on the edge of misery so they keep coming back for more. It isn't a mystery.


ikeberltersen's picture
ikeberltersen 5 years 25 weeks ago

Republicans see the New Deal and the growth of a solid middle class as nothing more than a disturbance to a permanent state of oligarchy. They want to take us back to the 'good old days' of a small group of plutocrats controlling and owning nearly everything, with companies issuing their own script for workers, worker contracts, debt peonage and as Thom pointed out, poll taxes. A country run and owned by the greedy.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 5 years 25 weeks ago

If and when Democrats become a majority in Washington DC, the priority should be to Make Paper Ballots mandatory across the USA, enact California style gerrymandering, and reaffirm voting Rights for US Taxpayers.

Alot of HUMANE Legislation would fall into place under these circumstances.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 5 years 25 weeks ago

Also, please eliminate the Electorial college.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 5 years 25 weeks ago

Off topic:

We need 100,000 or a half million surrounding the FCC Building on the day the net neutrality vote occurs! Peaceful protest.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 25 weeks ago


Why doesn't everyone just shut off the net, the day before they vote and show them your vote that way? Seems peaceful & less expensive to me. Seems to be working in NFL and Hollywood.

On Topic,

There should not be a poll tax. We should have voter ID, given free if need be by the DMV.

You can snarl about Trump until your teeth fall out....but also remember it was Dem Hillary who has been caught rigging the election.

All Dems are not one set of insults and the conseratives a different set of insults.

hate is not the answer.

StephenWinfield's picture
StephenWinfield 5 years 6 weeks ago

Not really. The elites, those coastal professionals, educators and students that Donald believes are foreign nationals, don't get tax cuts.
The billionaires get the cuts. People like trump.
Hardly elite, except for the wealth. essay have service.

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