The Poll Tax in the South

By Frederic D. Ogden | Go to book overview

5. VOTING: BEFORE AND
AFTER ANALYSES

OUT OF THE POLL TAX REPEAL movement of recent years have come charges that the tax is the chief cause for the disfranchisement of southern citizens, white as well as Negro. In fact, propaganda against the tax seems designed to leave the impression that the tax alone causes the low voter participation in southern states. These charges have been made before congressional committees and in congressional debates. They have been circulated throughout the nation by newspaper and magazine articles. Sweeping allegations--like the one that the poll tax disfranchises ten million southerners, six million whites and four million Negroes,1--from repetition have become accepted as fact.

An illustration of the extent to which such charges have been accepted may be seen in an important government document, The Report of the President's Committee on Civil Rights. The committee quotes an estimate made during a debate in the House of Representatives in July, 1947 that only ten per cent of the potential voters in the then seven poll tax states participated in the 1944 presidential election as against 49 per cent in non-poll tax states. It is implied that the tax accounts for the 39 percentage point difference in participation. A chart presents similar information graphically and gives the reader the distinct impression that the tax alone causes the low voting

____________________
1
Southern Electoral Reform League, Plain Facts About the Poll Tax ( Atlanta, Ga.), undated pamphlet.

-111-

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The Poll Tax in the South
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Tables xi
  • Figures xiii
  • 1. Roots I N Th E Past 1
  • 2. the Form of the Tax 32
  • 3. Administration of Poll Tax Collection 59
  • 4. the Poll Tax and Corruption in Elections 77
  • 5. Voting: Before and After Analyses 111
  • Conclusions 137
  • 6. Voting: Interstate and Intercounty Comparisons 139
  • 7. Repeal by States--I 178
  • 8. Repeal by States--Ii 201
  • 9. Repeal by Nation 241
  • 10. Conclusions 281
  • Index 291
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