Skip to main content
Unpublished Paper
Wealth v. Democracy: The Unfulfilled Promise of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment
ExpressO (2010)
  • David A Schultz, Hamline University
Abstract: The adoption of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment banning poll taxes in federal elections was intended to protect franchise rights and increase voter turnout. However, since its adoption it has yet to be successfully invoked to invalidate any practice, including poll taxes and most recently voter photo IDs. This article seeks to resurrect the Twenty-Fourth Amendment and to make the case for a broader interpretation of it. Specifically, the Article seeks to disconnect the poll tax from a narrow reading of its legacy during the Jim Crow era when its primary purpose was to disenfranchise African-Americans. Instead, the poll tax should be understood in terms of its broader historical purpose, to limit voting to propertied freeholders in order to ensure that only those who had sufficient wealth or income had a voice in elections. The broader purpose of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment thus should be read as a rejection of this linkage between wealth and voting, and a severing of the assumption that property or income is a perquisite to having a political voice.
  • poll tax,
  • 24th Amendment,
  • voter identification,
  • felon disenfranchisement,
  • political caucuses
Publication Date
February 19, 2010
Citation Information
David A Schultz. "Wealth v. Democracy: The Unfulfilled Promise of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment" ExpressO (2010)
Available at: