Openly denying the government taxes for war, despite threats and possible consequences
Never done a Penny Poll? This simple activity is one way to have more interaction with passers-by about government spending priorities. It challenges each of us to think about how tax dollars are being spent and how we would like them spent.
Set up penny polls on tax day outside the IRS or post office — or publicly at any time of year on college campuses or in libraries, at peace fairs, conferences, and downtown plazas.
Send out poll results in press releases to local media and you can post them on websites.
How do you do a Penny Poll?
Although called a “penny poll” some groups use nickels, others use beans instead of coins.
Some groups use cups or cut down plastic bottles to collect the coins or beans; some use an assortment of jars; some use matching jars. Others have a member with design and carpentry skills who builds a frame for plastic tubes.
The categories on the War Resisters League pie chart serve as labels for the jars or tubes for some groups; others like to add more specific categories and make an even split with 10 categories and 10 pennies representing one tax dollar.
The photos may give you more ideas on how to construct your very own Penny Poll. Use your imagination and the resources at hand. Also, see the blog for New York City’s Granny Peace Brigade and their “Ms.Gizmo” for their fancy set up and polling stories.
In Austin, Texas, our counter-recruitment group, Sustainable Options for Youth (SOY) always includes the Penny Poll in our “t-shirt challenge” when we table in the high schools. We ask students to respond to a series of questions, such as “what are the 5 basic First Amendment freedoms?” or “where is your school mascot animal found in the wild, and what are some threats to its existence?” We ask them to find
certain countries on the globe and write down their ideas about preventing war. There’s a Peace Wheel of Fortune and a chin-up bar, suggesting that peace takes strength, too.
National Affiliates: Christian Peacemaker Teams, Center on Conscience & War, Conscience & Military Tax Campaign (CMTC) Escrow Account, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Mennonite Central Committee, National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, Nonviolence International, Sojourners, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, War Resisters League, War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund