Poll Tax

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Morgan Gillespie
Professor Carr
English Composition 1
November 25, 2012
What are Poll Taxes?

A poll tax is a tax that costs the same for everyone no matter what their income or property is. In the United States, a poll tax is used to refer to a sum of money that people were required to pay in order to vote. Poll taxes were levied by the governments of John of Gaunt in the fourteenth century, Charles II in the seventeenth and Margaret Thatcher in the twentieth century. Most couldn’t afford to pay the taxes and weren’t able to vote, because of this they tried to abolish the poll taxes. There were certain areas that blacks weren’t comfortable going to, to vote because of the mistreatment.

The location of the polling place was an important factor in determining whether minorities exercise their right to vote. When polling places were located in white communities, minorities was extremely reluctant to vote because of their fear of harassment and intimidation at the polls. In Hopewell, Virginia, blacks were concerned about voting at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Halls located in the white community. According to the president of the Virginia chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, there were no voting places in black community. Blacks were voting in an organization’s building whose membership is all white. He said, “It’s like having the polls at a country club.” He additionally alleged that the location of the polling place had a negative effect on the black voter turnout. According to the respondent, “If one precinct was in the black community, then black people might become more accustomed to voting.” In February 1977 officials in Raymondville, Texas, submitted changes in the location of two polling places to the Attorney General pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Minorities believed that more minority election workers would decrease the amount of intimidation. In 1980, however, the number of minority election workers...
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