Tag Archives: poll tax

‘Watershed Moment in Election Law’ as Judge Rules ‘Modern Day Poll Tax’ in Florida Unconstitutional

Advocates for restoring the voting rights of people with past convictions welcomed the ruling as “a powerful reminder that no one can trump the U.S. Constitution.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-25-2020

Screenshot: MSNBC

Civil liberties advocates celebrated after a federal court on Sunday struck down as unconstitutional a Florida law that would have denied the right to vote to nearly a million recently enfranchised state residents with past felony convictions until they paid all outstanding legal fees, fines, and restitution.

After Florida voters in November 2018 overwhelming backed Amendment 4—a ballot initiative that restored the voting rights of Floridians who have fully completed their sentences for felony convictions other than murder or sex crimes—state lawmakers passed legislation that critics condemned as a “modern day poll tax.” Continue reading

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Closing polling places is the 21st century’s version of a poll tax

Californians wait in line to vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Joshua F.J. Inwood, Pennsylvania State University and Derek H. Alderman, University of Tennessee

Delays and long lines at polling places during recent presidential primary elections – such as voters in Texas experienced – represent the latest version of decades-long policies that have sought to reduce the political power of African Americans in the U.S.

Following the Civil War and the extension of the vote to African Americans, state governments worked to block black people, as well as poor whites, from voting. One way they tried to accomplish this goal was through poll taxes – an amount of money each voter had to pay before being allowed to vote. Continue reading

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It’s 2020 and Florida’s Supreme Court Just Ruled in Favor of a Poll Tax

“Florida cannot violate the U.S. Constitution’s protections. The right to vote cannot be contingent on the ability to pay.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-16-2020

Florida voters in November 2018 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to 1.4 million people with past felony convictions. (Photo: Public Citizen/Twitter)

Florida’s state Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of denying convicted felons the right to vote if they do not pay fines and fees associated with their incarceration, a decision that was immediately assailed by rights activists as an unconstitutional and immoral poll tax.

In a statement condemning the ruling (pdf), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Florida, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said the ruling “does not—indeed, cannot—alter what the U.S. Constitution requires.” Continue reading

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