This post was written by Renee Davidson and originally appeared on Voices of the League.
This week marks the anniversary of the House of Representatives’ passage of the 24th Amendment, landmark legislation that sought to outlaw the poll tax as a voting requirement in federal elections. After ratification by the states, the 24th Amendment became law in January 1964.
We mark this anniversary today as we continue to battle modern-day voter suppression efforts. Join us as we call on the House of Representatives to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA), a flexible, modern answer to the problem of discrimination in voting.
The poll tax was just one of a number of Jim Crow laws, or racially discriminatory measures that aimed to disenfranchise black voters and enforce segregation following Reconstruction. Although the 15th Amendment, passed in 1870, had granted African-Americans the right to vote, many states had implemented poll taxes as a means to keep them from voting. By the time the 24th Amendment was ratified, hundreds of thousands of voters had been disenfranchised as a result of poll taxes.
Our nation has taken great strides in advancing equality since Congress passed the 24th Amendment. But voter discrimination still exists today, and minority voices are still being silenced. Voters in low-income and minority communities are particularly impacted by flawed redistricting efforts and restrictive voter ID laws – the latter of which some consider a modern-day “poll tax.”
It’s critical that voters everywhere urge the House to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 and equip our democracy to respond to present-day voter discrimination.
The 24th Amendment was part of the civil rights movement that illustrated our country’s commitment to democracy and equality. Today, we must honor the 24th Amendment by refusing to be idle as the voting rights of Americans everywhere are at risk, and we urge the House to do the same by passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act.
Photo credit: League of Women Voters
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