Comment, "Failure to Pay Any Poll Tax or Other Tax": The Constitutionality of Tax Felon Disenfranchisement
The University of Chicago Law Review
Sloan G. Speck, Comment, "Failure to Pay Any Poll Tax or Other Tax": The Constitutionality of Tax Felon Disenfranchisement, 74 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1549 (2007), available at https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/faculty-articles/344.
If the government convicts a citizen under the tax evasion provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, some state disenfranchisement laws preclude that citizen — now a felon — from voting. In this sense, the right to vote depends on the payment of federal income taxes. The Constitution's Twenty-Fourth Amendment, however, guarantees that the federal franchise “shall not be denied or abridged... by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.” If “other tax” includes income taxes, the text of the Twenty-fourth Amendment appears to prohibit the disenfranchisement of citizens convicted of tax felonies. This Comment argues that courts should construe the Twenty-Fourth Amendment narrowly to permit the disenfranchisement of tax felons — even though the Twenty-Fourth Amendment’s plain language precludes states from disenfranchising tax felons for federal elections.
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