News Articles

The Washington Post | June 30th, 2021

By James Hohmann, Columnist 

As Virginia state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) thumbed through her deceased father’s Bible earlier this year, a receipt slipped out, in the amount of $2.12. That was how much her father had to pay to be allowed to vote in 1948.

It took another 16 years, and a constitutional amendment, to end the Jim Crow tactic of poll taxes. This year, amid a lot of talk about whether new voting restrictions amount to Jim Crow 2.0, Virginia — one of the final five states to impose a poll tax — has taken a different turn.

Pushed by McClellan and other Black lawmakers, the commonwealth has transformed itself from one of the hardest places to cast a ballot in America to one of the easiest. On Thursday, most elements of a first-of-its-kind, state-level Voting Rights Act will go into effect.