A Los Angeles resident inserts his ballot to vote in the November 2006 midterm elections. California was among the many states where voters approved bond measures. Robyn Beck, AFP/Getty Images

The voting tax is history

Stacey Vanek Smith Feb 9, 2007
A Los Angeles resident inserts his ballot to vote in the November 2006 midterm elections. California was among the many states where voters approved bond measures. Robyn Beck, AFP/Getty Images

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The race for the White House is still more than a year away, but we’ve already seen a number of candidates toss their hat in the ring. Only half of us will vote for the next President. What if we had to pay a fee at the polls? There was a time not long ago when that was the case. Stacey Vanek-Smith tells us about it in this installment of the History of Business.


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: In 1870, the U.S. passed the 15th Amendment. It gave African American males the right to vote, but many southern states quickly put barriers in place to prevent that.

The poll tax required people to pay money to vote, unless their ancestors had voted in the years before the Civil War.

Almost 100 years later Martin Luther King took up the issue, protesting Alabama’s efforts to control the polls.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: We are assembled here today to reaffirm our determination to gain the right to vote in Selma and Dallas County and all over the state of Alabama.

This week back in 1964, the federal government ratified the 24th Amendment, which outlawed the poll tax and other laws like it.

I’m Stacey Vanek-Smith.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.