North Dakota legislators unanimously refer measure to remove poll tax and 'paupers, idiots'

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April 5, 2011

BISMARCK, North Dakota: In a unanimous vote on Monday, April 4 the House cleared a measure to remove poll tax authority and the language 'paupers, idiots' from the state constitution to the November 6, 2012 statewide ballot.[1] The North Dakota measure, which will appear on the ballot as Measure 1, marks the 13th measure to be certified for a 2012 election.

Prior to the House vote of 92-0, the North Dakota Senate voted 46-0 in January.[2]

The measure is similar to efforts in New Mexico where voters removed a reference to "idiots" from their state constitution with the passage of 2010's Amendment 3. Voters in the State of Washington did the same thing in 1988, with the enactment of Amendment 83. In 2008, voters in Arkansas took out language in their constitution that referred to "idiots" and "insane persons" with the enactment of Amendment 1.

Specifically, Measure 1 would repeal Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of North Dakota, which reads as follows:[3]

The legislative assembly may provide for the levy, collection and disposition

of an annual poll tax of not more than one dollar and fifty cents on every male inhabitant of this state over twenty-one and under fifty years of age, except paupers, idiots, insane persons and Indians not taxed.

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