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When it comes to the 24th Amendment there is view academic, judicial, and on,one resources (at least that I can find). The 24th amendment reads:

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

Linguistically does this mean:

Any primary or other election for

  1. President or Vice President
  2. electors for President or Vice President
  3. Senator or Representative in Congress

or does it mean

  1. in any primary or other election for President or Vice President
  2. electors for President or Vice President
  3. Senator or Representative in Congress

If it is the former then was was primary election for only the executive included, and not for Representatives and Senators?

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  • 1
    The first sentence of this question makes no sense.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 1, 2023 at 14:15
  • 1
    Likewise the last sentence.
    – shoover
    Sep 1, 2023 at 15:35
  • "Former" means the first one, the one that doesn't include primary elections only for the executive.
    – phoog
    Sep 1, 2023 at 21:58

2 Answers 2

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Notice how, unlike in the proposed analyses in the question, the actual text repeats "for." This helps identify the items in the list, making it clear that the correct reading is

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.

Another way to show this is to reconstitute the two candidate interpretations to see which one makes sense. Take each branch of the "or" and insert it separately into the rest of the sentence:

  • The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President 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.

  • The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for electors for President or Vice President 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.

  • The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election 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.

All perfectly fine. What happens if we include the bit about elections only with the first branch?

  • The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President 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.

  • The right of citizens of the United States to vote for electors for President or Vice President 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.

  • The right of citizens of the United States to vote 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.

If you do this, you're not only taking away the mention of primary elections from the second and third branches, you're taking away all mention of elections, primary and other. What's the purpose of saying "right to vote for electors" and so on but "right to vote in an election for president" and so on?

Besides, "vote for Senator" is imprecise and casual. More formally, you vote for a candidate, not for an office. But it's normal to speak of an election for an office, and normal to speak of voting in such an election.

The first reading honors the principle of parallelism and uses the more formal and precise wording in all three branches of the clause, but even if the second reading were correct it would not have the purported effect. There's no reason to think that "vote for senator or representative in Congress" should not include voting in a primary.

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It means:

Any primary or other election for:

  1. President or Vice President

  2. electors for President or Vice President

  3. Senator or Representative in Congress

This reading flows from the context of the amendment and its goals. The other reading wouldn't make any sense.

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  • constitutioncenter.org/the-constitution/amendments/… The constitution centre takes the other view: In the end, Congress decided it needed a constitutional amendment to abolish poll taxes. The text of the Amendment expressly extended to congressional elections, the selection of presidential electors, and presidential primaries
    – Pioneer
    Sep 1, 2023 at 1:20
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    @Pioneer It says no such thing. Instead, it says that in '1966, in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, the Supreme Court would find that poll taxes in all state and local elections were prohibited under the Equal Protection Clause."
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 1, 2023 at 14:53
  • It's a direct quote from the second of three articles. It's an unconventional interface design. At the bottom of the page, the article title "Common Interpretation" appears. If you click the arrow to the right, you'll see the other two articles, "Federal Power Over Elections and The Twenty-Fourth Amendment" and "The Role of The Twenty-Fourth Amendment in Challenging Financial Burdens on the Right to Vote."
    – phoog
    Sep 1, 2023 at 22:17
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    @Pioneer the point about presidential primaries is that there was no clear constitutional authority to enact legislation concerning presidential primaries, which is one reason why an amendment was thought to be necessary. This statement does not imply that the amendment doesn't have effect for other primaries or for presidential general elections.
    – phoog
    Sep 1, 2023 at 22:26

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