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TABLE 1. The Poll Tax in the Five States Still Using It -Continued

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. This table is from Frederic D. Ogden, The Poll Tax in the South, ch. 2.

• Person must pay during 2 successive years to vote in primary but may pay at one

time to vote in general election.

• None actually levied.

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In the 40 Non-poll Tax States 68.74 percent voted

Since 1944, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee have abandoned the poll tax. Credit: Adapted from To Secure These Rights, p. 38.

itself on the white primary, holding that no matter what part the political party played, the party in holding a primary was acting in conformance with State laws and under the protection of the State so that ultimately the white primary rested upon State action. Although some of the States' Democratic parties attempted to evade the reasoning of Smith v. Allwright, the white primary in any form has been judicially condemned. With the realization that there was no way around the decision, most of the Southern States that practiced the white primary accepted, to varying extents, Negro participation in the nomination processes of the Democratic parties.

Elmore v. Rice, 72 F. Supp. 516 (E.D.S.C., 1947) aff'd 165 F. 2d 387 (4th Cir. 1947), cert. denied.


The primary concern of Congress in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and the single specific field of study and investigation that it made mandatory for this Commission, was alleged denials of the right to vote. But for nearly a year after the passage of the Act and for over five months after the Commissioners were confirmed by the Senate, no sworn voting complaints were submitted to the Commission making the allegations required to invoke the Commission's duty "to investigate." During this period and thereafter the Commission carried out its second statutory duty, "to study and collect information" concerning, first of all, the problem of denials of the right to vote.

The Commission began by collecting all available statistical information on voting. These statistics, though containing many serious gaps, are informative.

In no northern or western State are racial, religious, or nationalorigin statistics on registration or voting issued, even where they are kept. From all accounts, including the reports of this Commission's State Advisory Committees and the compilation of State laws made for the Commission by the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress, problems of discriminatory denials of the right to vote in these States are relatively minor, both statistically and as a matter of law. In several States, Indians face certain limitations, and the constitution of Idaho provides that "Chinese, or persons of Mongolian descent, not born in the United States" shall not vote, a holdover from the era of oriental exclusion. In New York there is the language barrier to voting by citizens of Puerto Rican origin, discussed below. And there are de facto denials of the right to vote in northern areas that exclude or discourage Negro residence altogether. For example, the report of the Committee on the Right to Vote of the Indiana State Advisory Committee stated that in 1946 it was found that there were no Negro residents in 30 of the State's 92 counties. The Indiana report added that

in a number of the county seats and small communities in the counties signs are visible advising "Niggers don't let the sun go down on you here!" Obviously, if one cannot establish residence in one-third of the State, he cannot meet the qualifications for voting.

The Indiana committee concluded that in these areas "the Negro in Indiana is being deprived of his right to vote by indirection."

In the South, according to the best estimates available, Negro registration has climbed from 595,000 in 1947 to over 1 million in 1952, and to 1.2 million in 1956. But this represents only about 25 percent of the nearly 5 million Negroes of voting age in the region in 1950. By

contrast, about 60 percent of voting-age Southern whites are registered. But generalizations are misleading because the picture varies from State to State and from county to county within each State.

The following summaries of the available statistical information on voting in the respective Southern States all use the 1950 Census figures, the latest ones available, for voting-age and total population breakdowns by race. Estimates of the percentage of Negroes registered to vote are derived from these 1950 Census figures and the latest available registration figures. These registration or voter qualification figures are released officially by the State governments in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Virginia. In North Carolina, county boards of elections submitted figures to the Commission's State Advisory Committee. The secondary sources used in the other States are described on each of the following summaries. No racial registration statistics by counties were available for Tennessee.



Source: 1950 census; 1958 registration figures from State Auditor: Arkansas has no "registration" as such. Payment of poll tax is equivalent of registration. The following figures are official poll tax payments.

The total 1950 voting-age population of Arkansas was 1,108,366. Of this total, 880,675 were white and 227,691 were nonwhite. Thus nonwhites were 20.5 percent of the total voting-age population.

In 1958 the total number of registered voters in Arkansas was 563,978. Of this total, 499,955 were white and 64,023 were nonwhite. Thus nonwhites were 11.4 percent of all registered voters.

The number of nonwhites registered in 1958 represented 28.1 percent of the total 1950 population of voting-age nonwhites.

Arkansas has 75 counties. In six counties, nonwhites were a majority of the 1950 voting-age population. In all of these counties some nonwhites were registered to vote in 1958.

Nonwhite Registration by Counties

Percentage of Nonwhites Registered in 1958
(based on 1950 voting-age population figures):
No nonwhites registered......

Some, but fewer than 5 percent...

5 to 25 percent...

Number of








*Nonwhite population of voting age in these 14 counties in 1950 was 83.

25.1 to 50 percent...

More than 50 percent....


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