Journal of Law and Policy


Lydia Saltzbart


How much should it cost to vote in the United States? The answer is clear from the Supreme Court’s landmark opinion in Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections—nothing. Yet more than fifty years later, many U.S. voters must jump over financial hurdles to access the franchise. These hurdles have withstood judicial review because the Court has drifted away from Harper and has instead applied the more deferential Anderson-Burdick analysis to modern poll tax claims—requiring voters to demonstrate how severely the cost burdens them. As a result, direct and indirect financial burdens on the vote have proliferated. Millions of voters are required to expend financial resources to provide postage for mail ballots, comply with voter ID requirements, notarize ballots, and pay off legal financial obligations (“LFOs”) in order to vote and have their vote counted. This Note argues that the Court fails to appreciate the special constitutional and statutory protections against wealth-based voting qualifications when it applies Anderson-Burdick to monetary burdens on the right to vote. In highlighting the specific protections afforded by Harper, the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, and Section 10 of the Voting Rights Act, this Note calls for not only the Court, but also Congress, to restore the intended power of these protections and to untangle laws that impose monetary burdens on voters from ordinary voting regulations subject to Anderson-Burdick.