The Poll Tax in the South

By Frederic D. Ogden | Go to book overview

3. ADMINISTRATION OF POLL TAX COLLECTION

SOUTHERN METHODS of collecting the poll tax, and the attitudes toward collection, vary as widely as the amounts of the tax, the scope of liability, and other matters discussed in Chapter 2. Although in some non-southern states the poll tax is a bona fide device for raising revenue, where it is a prerequisite for voting, it is not. An examination of relevant legal provisions and of methods of collection reveals that large scale payment is not desired. The tax is nominally a revenue measure and it does provide some revenue, but primarily it restricts voting. To the extent that this purpose is achieved, the revenue aspect of the tax suffers. Payment of bona fide taxes is not only invited but, wherever possible, enforced. Payment of poll taxes by large segments of the population, on the other hand, is discouraged.

In most poll tax states, the statutory provisions concerning collection of the tax are designed to discourage, rather than encourage, its collection. The Alabama constitution provides that no legal process nor any fee or commission shall be allowed for poll tax collection. Payment is left on a voluntary basis.1 There are no penalties for delinquency. No bills are sent out, and in most places, no effort is made by the tax collector to notify the taxpayers when the tax should be paid. The tax is not collected with property taxes and no special reminders are sent out to property owners. In a few cases, when a man is

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1
Constitution, Art. VIII, sec. 194.

-59-

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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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