North Dakota lawmakers advance measure to remove poll tax and ‘paupers, idiots’

Jan 24 2011

BISMARK, North Dakota: A proposal to repeal the authority for an annual poll tax and remove language referring to paupers and idiots from the state constitution is moving forward. [1]

On January 21, 2011 the North Dakota Senate voted 46-0 to approve putting the amendment on the ballot. Specifically, the measure “removes the constitutional provision allowing the legislative assembly to levy 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.”[2] It is Section 6 of Article X that currently contains the references to “paupers, idiots, insane persons and Indians not taxed.”

According to the North Dakota Constitution an amendment proposed by either the House or the Senate required only majority approval. The measure is now pending in the House[3]

Voters in New Mexico removed a reference to “idiots” from their state constitution with the passage of 2010’s Amendment 3, while 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 ofAmendment 1.

The full text of the proposal can be read here.