On her MSNBC program this week Rachel Maddow framed the issue of equal access and voting rights in a unique and incisive way by arguing that astronomically long waiting lines at voting sites are another form of Jim Crow era poll taxes. Poll taxes were long used to disenfranchise Americans who wished to vote but could not afford the “tax” that was levied on their basic right of citizenship. The taxes were overwhelmingly used to disenfranchise African-American voters in the post-Civil War South; the use of such taxes was banned in 1964. With some voting sites in Florida clocking in at early voting waiting times of six-plus hours, Maddow argued that for some, a decision to vote could also mean giving up a day’s wages. “It is patriotically inspiring to see Americans who are willing and able to stand in a six-hour-long line to vote,” she said, “but who is not in those lines because they can’t afford to be?”

Marissa Colón-Margolies

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