Cynthia Boyer

Document Type



In the United States, disenfranchisement is deeply rooted in history as a form of punishment—a dual penalty. In the late nineteenth century, the poll tax first emerged to restrict voting and limit the expansion of suffrage to Black men. Primarily aimed at minorities, these laws on disenfranchisement became a significant barrier to U.S. ballot boxes. Even though the poll tax was finally outlawed in federal elections in 1964, nowadays it takes another subtle form through the prism of voter identification laws. Thirty-five states currently have voter ID laws, with varying criteria and accepted forms of documentation, thus requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. These new restrictions disproportionally affect minorities and perpetuate discriminatory practices in voting. The objective of this article is to demonstrate how over the last decades with the advent of neoliberalism many disenfranchisement tax laws have been passed coinciding with the expansion of the penal state reinforcing discrimination and perpetuating inequalities pushing aside the gains of the precedent era regarding the shift to equality in voting right.