24th Amendment of The United States Constitution Explained

What is the Twenty Fourth Amendment?

Section One of the 24th Amendment of the United States Constitution states that United States citizens have the right to participate in voting in any primary or other election for President or Vice President.

For Representatives of Congress, Senators, electors for President or Vice President, voters shall not be invalidated due to not paying a poll tax or any other taxation by any State or the United States.

Section Two of the Amendment states that Congress can enact the Article through the required legislation.

The Interpretation

Most of the discriminatory laws managed to be terminated with the 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment, and 15th Amendment ratification. These laws were there from the slavery era, but not all the forms of discrimination were eliminated.

The Twenty-Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution was endorsed on January 23rd, 1964. The main reason the amendment was endorsed was that there was an injustice that prevented citizens from voting. The poll tax prevented people from voting. This poll tax was a fee imposed by states to disenfranchise certain people from having voting rights.

Poll Tax Used As A Weapon

The poll tax was a way of stopping the African American Voters and other ethnic groups who could not pay the tax from voting. This is because they were low-income earners and couldn’t afford to pay.

Apart from the poll tax, other forms of discrimination were durational residency requirements and literacy tests. This made it impossible for them to participate in elections. These discriminatory laws were put to an end by the Supreme Court. It made it possible for low-income earners to vote despite not paying the poll tax.

The History Behind Ratification of the 24th Amendment

The decision of who qualified to vote was left to the state since the Constitution couldn’t dictate it. However, the House of Representatives members were guaranteed that the citizens would vote for the State’s lower legislative chamber members. Voter qualifications remained primarily left to state discretion.

It was the property owners who had the right to vote by the time the Constitution was ratified. After some time, some states stopped with property ownership voting and instead required payment of the poll tax as the right to vote.

Changes Through The Ages

This continued to change in the mid-nineteenth century, and it’s free white men who now had the right to vote. However, the 15th Amendment changed this, and all male citizens could vote regardless of their race and color.

In 1889 a new set of laws introduced literacy tests and disqualified felons from voting, plus the poll tax was brought back. However, poll taxes became a burden as some people did not or could not pay. Some jurisdictions needed people to pay before elections, and others needed them to prevent receipts during elections.

By 1962, the poll tax was becoming irrelevant, and many states didn’t continue with the practice. The civil rights movement rose and went against the poll tax.

President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy agreed to endorse the ban on literacy tests and poll taxes. He did it during his union address to the State. Four years later, after failed attempts and continuous struggle in 1962 for the constitutional amendment, Congress agreed to endorse the 24th Amendment. This permanently brought an end to the requirement to pay the poll tax to participate in a federal election.


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