What If Only Taxpayers Voted?

A map doesn't show the results of the 2012 election if only people who pay taxes had voted, but instead was stolen from an article about what voting would have looked like without universal suffrage.

  • Published 1 September 2016


A map shows the results of the 2012 election if "only taxpayers voted."

"What if only Taxpayers voted?" Been seeing this sentiment all over twitter lately. Sources seem hazy. Might you be able to shed light on it?

Collected via Email, September 2016



On 28 August 2016, the web site The Burning Platform published an image purportedly showing what the electoral map would look like if only taxpayers had been allowed to vote during the 2012 election:

what if only taxpayers were allowed to vote

However, the map displayed here was stolen from Buzzfeed, then republished alongside extremely inaccurate and misleading misinformation.  According to the blog post, the data in this image comes from CNN’s 2012 presidential race election poll (as noted in the bottom right-hand corner of this image).

However, by going to polling page itself, it’s clear that no one was asked if they were taxpayers — or if they were asked, that answer was not factored into the CNN map.

So where did the data actually come from? On 9 November 2012, Buzzfeed published an article featuring several electoral maps representing what the 2012 election would have looked like without universal suffrage. The map, therefore, is a doctored version of Buzzfeed’s map for 1920, which showed the results of the 2012 election if only white people (both men and women) had been allowed to vote: 

buzzfeed map

President Barack Obama has been elected twice by a coalition that reflects the diversity of America. Republicans have struggled to win with ever-higher percentages of the shrinking share of the population that is white men — “a Mad Men party in a Modern Family world,” in the words of one strategist.

But at America’s founding, only white men could vote, and the franchise has only slowly expanded to include people of color, women, and — during the Vietnam War — people under 21. These maps show how American politics would have looked in that undemocratic past.


While women’s suffrage passed in 1920, there were still huge impediments to minorities to vote during that period, for instance in the form of poll taxes (only finally outlawed by the 24th Amendment in 1964). So here’s a version of the map that shows only white voters, men and women.

Other maps published in the same article used different metrics for comparison’s sake such as how the 2012 election would have looked like — for example — if only white men could vote, if only men (not just white men, but no women) could vote, if only people over age 24 could vote, and finally, how the 2012 election actually played out. 

Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes