Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her support for a piece of legislation that would lower the federal voting age from 18 years old to 16 years old.
As IJR previously reported, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) proposed lowering the voting age to 16 as an amendment to H.R.1, a massive bill backed by House Democrats that aims to reform campaign finance and voter access laws.
During the debate of the amendment, Pressley argued that 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote because they are allowed to work and must pay income taxes.
“Beginning at the age of 16, young people are contributing to both the labor force and their local economies by paying income taxes, and yet they are deprived of the opportunity to exercise their right to vote,” Pressley argued.
Many people criticized this idea, arguing that 16 and 17-year-olds are not allowed to sign contracts or join the military.
While there were many critics of lowering the voting age, Speaker Pelosi was not one of them.
She explained that she has always been a supporter of letting “kids” vote because she wants to get high school students involved in the ballot box while they learn about their rights in class.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 14, 2019
“In terms of legislation, we couldn’t be prouder than H.R.1. This is about reducing the role of big, dark special interest money in politics and empowering small donors. It’s about voter suppression. It’s about making redistricting fairer. It’s really a source of joy and hope to many people in the country. I myself personally, — I’m not speaking for my caucus — I myself have always been for lowering the voter age to 16. I think it’s really important to capture kids when they are in high school when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about government, to be able to vote.”
Pelosi explained that she has held this position for “a long time” and that she would “welcome” the change.
If the voting age were to drop in the United States, it could greatly boost the number of Democratic voters. In 2018, two-thirds of voters 29 years old and younger voted for Democrats, according to data from the Pew Research Center.
While Pelosi may be excited to add a new wave of young voters to the Democratic Party, it isn’t likely that she will see that before the 2020 elections. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made it clear that he will not even grant H.R.1 a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.