"Dorothy Guilford has a simple message for politicians who enact laws making it harder for minorities, the poor and the elderly to vote: “I don't think that’s right.”
She should know. She’s seen it all before.
Born in 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama, Guilford lived through most of the Jim Crow years, when laws discouraged African Americans like her, as well as poor white people, from voting.
When she first became eligible to vote, she had to take a literacy test and pay a poll tax of $1.50, a sum worth about $25 today. Anyone who couldn't read or couldn't pay the tax, which accumulated, couldn't vote. Most white voters, however – those whose ancestors were on the voting rolls prior to the Civil War – were exempt from the test…
A study released in June by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard found that the expenses for documentation, travel and waiting time associated with obtaining a proper photo ID can range from $75 to $175. That’s significantly higher than the old poll tax, even when adjusted for inflation.
'For many people, paying the cost needed to meet voter ID requirements means spending the equivalent of more than a week’s worth of groceries,' the Harvard report states. Some people, it adds, 'can never get the documents they need to qualify for a voter ID.'
Reviving Jim Crow
Guilford has seen the bad old days – and doesn't want to see them return."