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Robert Reich: The New Poll Tax – OpEd

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Hundreds of thousands of Americans are being denied the right to vote because they are poor.

In nine states, Republican legislators have enacted laws that disenfranchise anyone with outstanding legal fees or court fines. For example, in Alabama more than 100,000 people who owe money – roughly 3 percent of the state’s voting-age population – have been struck from voting rolls.

This is unconstitutional. In 1964, the 24th amendment abolished the poll tax, a Jim Crow tactic used to bar poor blacks from voting.

These new laws are a modern reincarnation of that unconstitutional system, disproportionately disenfranchising people of color.

Income and wealth should have no bearing on the right to vote. Many Americans are struggling to make ends meet. But they still have a constitutional right to make their voices heard.

Preventing people from voting because they owe legal fees or court fines muzzle low-income Americans at a time in our nation’s history when the rich have more political power than ever.

These state laws are another form of voter suppression – like gerrymandering, voter ID requirements, and bars on anyone with felony convictions from voting.

We must not let them stand.


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Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

One thought on “Robert Reich: The New Poll Tax – OpEd

  • November 23, 2017 at 7:17 pm
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    Suffer the poor indeed. Failing to name the nine states, you focus on a nonexistent poll tax in Alabama. Your inane thesis fails the smell test in two directions.
    First, Alabama, the favorite target of the Dummycraps was tarred a couple of years back by Hillary the Absurdist’s rants and now suffers from Dummycrapitis in the form of a bogus attack on Judge Roy Moore to defeat him and turn the United States Senate into a Dummycrap hog sty. For those out there in reader land, Alabama bars incarcerated felons from voting and requires an identity card (which the State issues free of charge) and that’s about the size of it.
    Second, that, “Hundreds of thousands of Americans are being denied the right to vote because they are poor’ is pure, unadulterated bull shit.
    I suppose this is the Thanksgiving gift Robert, PhD, has given us: a turkey.
    Thank you, Robert, now get a shave and reflect on the fact that:
    YOU LOST and the American People WON

    Reply

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