“Appeals court: Postage for absentee ballots isn’t a poll tax”


A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a lower court’s ruling that said requiring voters to provide their own stamps for mail-in ballots and ballot applications does not amount to an unconstitutional poll tax.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Georgia chapter filed a lawsuit in April 2020 saying that Georgia’s postage requirement for absentee ballots and ballot applications effectively imposes a poll tax and is therefore unconstitutional. The challenge was brought on behalf of voters and a group seeking to empower communities of color, the Black Voters Matter Fund.

“We hold that the fact that absentee voters in Georgia who decide to vote by mail must pay their own postage is not a ‘tax’ or unconstitutional fee on voting,” Circuit Judge Elizabeth Branch wrote in the opinion for a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

That affirmed an August 2020 ruling by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg in Atlanta.

You can find the unanimous opinion of the 11th Circuit panel here. The opinion ends with the footnote: “We note that the Plaintiffs’ claims border on the frivolous. At this time, however, we
are not imposing sanctions.”

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