Friday, January 23, 2015

Today in American History: The 24th Amendment 01/23/1964

The 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or 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 other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

Today on 01/23/1964 the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. The 24th Amendment made it unconstitutional in federal elections to impose any kind of tax associated with voting.  Remember, this only prevents poll taxes in federal elections, it was still two more years in Harper vs Board of Election that the United States Supreme Court ruled that it was also illegal to assess poll taxes in state run elections, too.

The poll tax was a part of a series of laws intended to marginalize black American from politics as far as possible without violating the Fifteenth Amendment, which required that voting not be limited by "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."  The poll tax had the additional impact of weakening poor white voters who might sympathize with the Populist Party, though this was downplayed by proponents of the poll tax for fear of electoral backlash against them.  Passage of poll taxes began in earnest in the 1890s, as with the end of Reconstruction in 1877, no federal troops remained to enforce black voting rights.  By 1902, all eleven former Confederate states had enacted a poll tax in one variety or another.  Some had a simple poll tax that you paid from year-to-year, while others not only taxed you in the year you were voting, but would make you pay compounded missed poll taxes from previous years before you would be allowed to vote.  In addition, the poll tax worked in conjunction with other voter disenfranchisement measures such as: literacy tests, voter assessments, white primaries and threats of violence.  For example, all potential voters had to undergo an assessment in Arkansas.  Conveniently, blacks were left off the assessment lists and thusly could not vote.

At the time of the ratification of the 24th Amendment, five states still levied a poll tax: Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

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