Taxing the Polls

The 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1964, ensuring that the right of citizens of the United States to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.” At the time, five southern states—Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi—still enforced poll tax requirements. In the years after the Civil War, states across the South instituted poll taxes, disenfranchising African Americans and poor whites across the region.

This artifact from Sumter, Alabama in 1932 acknowledges the receipt of a $1.50 poll tax or $26.09 in 2015 dollars.

In 1932, the average cost of a loaf of bread nationally was seven cents. In other words, Alabama’s poll tax was equivalent to 21 loaves of bread.

Image Available At: https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/polltaxreceipt.jpg