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The Modern-Day Poll Tax

How Economic Sanctions Block Access to the Polls

By Erika L. Wood & Neema Trivedi

Exclusion of convicted felons from the right to vote remains a categorical segregation from the franchise in the United States. The practice of felon disenfranchisement is rooted in a history of race discrimination and today disproportionately denies suffrage to members of minority groups and the poor. Legal challenges to these policies under the Voting Rights Act have produced mixed results, but attacking the constitutionality of legal financial obligations imposed on ex-offenders, such as the payment of court fines and fees, may prove to be the best approach to eradicating a policy that is the modern-day equivalent of a poll tax

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