The Poll Tax in the South

By Frederic D. Ogden | Go to book overview

4. THE POLL TAX AND CORRUPTION IN ELECTIONS

AN ARGUMENT FOR POLL TAX adoption was that this requirement would help to purify elections. Disfranchisement leaders contended that the South must exclude Negroes from exercising political power and that methods other than violence, intimidation, and corrupt practices must be found to protect public morals. But opponents of the tax now charge that, instead of purifying elections, the poll tax has caused considerable political corruption. Investigation of poll tax administration discloses that several corrupt practices have been associated with this tax.


VOTE BUYING THROUGH POLL TAX PAYMENT

Payment by politicians and others as a means of buying votes is one of the abuses most frequently attributed to the poll tax. This practice occurs in varying degrees in all present poll tax states, and it occurred in other southern states prior to abandonment of the tax requirement. Its extent fluctuates with the intensity of election contests, but it seems less serious than advocates of poll tax abolition claim, and less common and less serious than it was in earlier years.

All of the states but Mississippi1 have laws which forbid payment of another's tax as a means of influencing his vote, but

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1
South Carolina also had no laws which forbade the payment of another's tax. Since poll tax payment was not a prerequisite for primary elections, the practice of purchasing votes through tax payment was not widespread and the necessity for such legislation was apparently not felt. In 1940, the treasurer

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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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