Along with literacy tests, property or residency requirements, poll taxes were one of the methods used to prevent African Americans from voting beginning in the last quarter of the 19th century. After the Fifteenth Amendment enabled the right to vote to African Americans a number of states enacted poll tax laws as a legal method to restrict voting rights. The poll tax was especially effective in disenfranchising potential black voters since African Americans made up a disproportionate number of the poor who could not afford to pay.
A poll tax certificate issued to Alice Irby of Selma, Alabama by the United States Civil Service Commission, Voting Rights Act of 1965. The page is white paper with black printed ink text and fields. The fields have been filled in by hand in blue ink. The top of the certificate reads: [United States Civil Service Commission / Voting Rights Act of 1965 / Poll Tax Payment Certificate / State of Alabama]. The certificate recognizes that Irby paid the three dollar poll tax in order to vote and is signed by John H. Craig, Examiner, U.S. Civil Service Commission on January 29, 1966. The back of the certificate is blank.