Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

The process of voting in an election. The word is recorded from Middle English in the sense ‘head’, and hence ‘an individual person among a number’, from which developed the sense ‘number of people ascertained by counting of heads’ and then ‘counting of heads or of votes’ (17th century).

poll tax a tax levied on every adult, without reference to their income or resources. Poll taxes have often been extremely unpopular because they weigh disproportionately heavily on poorer people. Such taxes were levied in England in 1377, 1379, and 1380; the last of these is generally regarded as having contributed to the 1381 Peasants' Revolt. From the mid 1980s, the term was used informally for the community charge, a usage which reflected the tax's deep unpopularity.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.