24th Amendment Notes
The 24th amendment
Section 1 of the 24th amendment says:
"The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any
primary or other election for President of Vice President, for
electors for President of Vice President, or for Senator of
Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the
United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or
Section 2 of the 24th amendment says:
"The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by
The 24th amendment is about eliminating poll taxes and any other
deterrents from anyone voting in federal elections.
In 1939, Congress began to try to get rid of the poll tax, but
history was not behind them. After all, in colonial times the tax was
to raise funds for the colonies. Using the poll tax was one of the
last legal ways of keeping the poor and minority groups from
participating in voting after the fifteenth amendment. With a poll
tax, in order to vote, a certain amount of money, or tax, must be
paid. The tax could be in different amounts of money throughout the
states. This tax allowed the generally more wealthy white population
access to the polls with little loss. The other minority groups such
as the poor, African-Americans, and Hispanics had to give up much more
just to vote such as food or property if they did not have enough
money to pay the tax. There were also other methods of excluding the
minority groups from voting and those were the grandfather clause, and
the literacy test. This amendment ended all three of these acts.
Proposal and Ratification
This amendment was proposed by the Eighty-seventh Congress by
Senate Joint Resolution No 29, which was approved by the House of
Representatives on August 27, 1962 (which is when it was proposed as
well). Within a year and a half, it was ratified on January 23, 1964.
38 states out of the 50 states approved the 24th amendment. Up until
the 24th amendment was ratified, only five states still used the poll
tax and they were; Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia.
Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections
(Argued January 25-26, 1966)
(Decided March 24, 1966)
In its landmark 1966 ruling, Harper v. Virginia Board of
Elections, the Supreme Court stated for the first time that wealth
couldn't be a determinant factor in our elections. Annie Harper, a
poor Virginia voter and a group of poor voters with her had challenged
a $1.50 poll tax, which Virginia charged to voters for participating
in its state elections. Prior to this case, the Supreme Court had
twice before upheld the poll tax as constitutional. But this time, the
Supreme Court finally declared it unconstitutional. The Court struck
down the poll tax barrier as a violation of the Equal Protection
Clause of the 14th amendment, holding that "a State violates the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment whenever it makes the
affluence of the voter or payment of any fee an electoral standard.
Voter qualifications have no relation to wealth."
This case appealed from the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Virginia to the U.S. Supreme Court.