Is paying postage to mail ballots a 'poll tax'? Court issues ruling

TV’s Scooby-Doo appears on USA Forever stamps from the U.S. Postal Service.

A federal appeals court has rejected the claim – which developed as part of a larger agenda to challenge state voting regulations and requirements – that having to pay for the postage to mail an election ballot was an unconstitutional “poll tax.”

The ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the charges made by an organization and several individuals over the requirements in Georgia “border on the frivolous.”

The case was brought by Black Voters Matter and two individuals who claimed that the state was “imposing an unconstitutional ‘poll tax’ or fee on some absentee voters.”

It’s not, the three-judge panel said.

“Absentee voters, after applying for and receiving an absentee ballot, are responsible for returning their ballots to the county election office,” the judges said.

The state has given them the options of returning them directly, dropping them into a ballot drop box, or mailing them.

“The statute requires neither the state of Georgie nor county governments to cover the cost of postage for absentee voters who choose the third option – mailing their ballots,” they wrote.

The plaintiffs’ near-“frivolous” claim was that that violated the 24th Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The court pointed out the plaintiffs said they “did not want to use their own stamps to mail in absentee ballots.”

The lower court dismissed the case, and the appeals court agreed with that action.

The ruling explained, “Georgia voters, without paying any money, have the option to vote in person, bring their absentee ballot to the county election officer, or drop their ballot in a county drop box.”

Further, the proceeds from stamps are directed to the Postal Service, not the state.

“These voters are buying a service (the delivery of their mail) from the USPS,” the court found.

The judges scolded the plaintiffs for misquoting precedent and making “incorrect and disingenuous” arguments.

“Those who buy stamps are paying the government for its service in delivering the envelopes to which they attach those stamps,” the court said.

The Washington Examiner explained the action was “part of a broader effort by Democrats and affiliated groups to challenge voting laws in many states. Democratic leaders argue that provisions such as voter ID requirements and recent changes to polling hours are discriminatory.”

Those issues include the names of dead voters still on voter rolls, verification that voters are who they say they are, the permission for political organizations to collect ballots from people and deliver them, and much more.

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