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The 24th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits both Congress and the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax. The amendment was proposed by Congress to the states on Aug. 27, 1962, and was ratified by the states on Jan. 23, 1964. Former Confederate states adopted poll taxes in the late 19th century in the decades after the end of Reconstruction as a measure to prevent African Americans and often poor whites from voting. The practice was also upheld by Supreme Court of the United States in the 1937 decision Breedlove v. Suttles. Five states still retained poll taxes at the time of the 24th Amendment’s ratification: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia. Not until 1966 when the Supreme Court ruled in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections that poll taxes for any level of elections were unconstitutional because they violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Subsequent litigation related to potential discriminatory effects of voter registration requirements has generally been based on application of this clause.
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