Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) proposed an amendment that would lower the legal voting age in federal elections from 18 years old to 16 years old.
Pressley proposed the amendment to a massive legislation package dealing with election reforms titled HR 1. While the focus of the bill is on campaign finance, Pressley noted that she believes these reforms would be strengthened by being more inclusive of young voters.
Watch the video below:
.@RepPressley introduces amendment on lowering voting age: "In this country we affirm that when a person walks into the voting booth & pulls that lever, there is no meritocracy or hierarchy. The booth is the equalizer…Some have questioned the maturity of our youth. I don't." pic.twitter.com/dJtTHD0kRk
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 7, 2019
“My amendment to HR 1 strikes at one of the fundamental goals of this legislation by ensuring that those who have a stake in our democracy will also have a say in our democracy. By lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years of age, my amendment will allow young people to have a say in our federal elections. To help shape and inform the policies that will set the course for the future. From gun violence to climate change, our young people are organizing, mobilizing, and calling us to action. They are at the forefront of social and legislative movements and have earned inclusion in our democracy.”
With some heavy references to the teens from the March for Our Lives, Pressley noted that even 16-year-olds who are not political activists can hold jobs and pay 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 said.
Pressley’s legislative co-sponsor, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), tweeted his support for the amendment, saying that young people deserve to cast their vote.
Decisions we make in Congress today are going to affect the young people of this country for decades. They deserve a say in our democracy & that’s what this amendment does. #ForThePeople https://t.co/X4V4MSSHFq
— Rep. Jim McGovern (@RepMcGovern) March 7, 2019
It should be noted that if 16-year-olds were suddenly able to vote, it could be a huge boost to Democratic vote counts, as young voters tend to vote against Republicans.
While she may have the support of a few of her fellow Democrats, she is getting mixed reactions elsewhere. Many people took to Twitter to explain why they think lowering the voting age is a bad idea:
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley just introduced a bill to lower the voting age to 16. Liberals don't think kids know what gender they are, but are smart enough to vote. It's a brave new world!
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) March 7, 2019
The voting age was originally lowered to 18 (from 21) because 18 year olds were being conscripted to go fight in war, not work at a fast food restaurant https://t.co/BIDjEwC2kr
— Harry Khachatrian (@Harry1T6) March 7, 2019
“It's simply wrong," MassGOP chairman Jim Lyons told the Herald. "Almost all 16-year-olds I know I don't believe should have the privilege or the authority to vote. They simply haven't matured to the level that they can make those types of decisions." https://t.co/wYDFFYz5XQ
— MassGOP (@massgop) March 7, 2019
Here’s the reality: most 16 year olds don’t even want to vote. And even if they had the right, they wouldn’t.
This is a non-issue being pushed for clicks and press by a Congresswoman trying to be cool.
— CJ Pearson (@thecjpearson) March 6, 2019
Should we allow 16 year old teenagers to vote in the 2020 Election….🤔
Ummm when I was 16 I still thought there was a small chance I could figure out a way to become Batman!
That’s gonna be a Hard Pass…👍🏻
— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) March 6, 2019
Others pointed out the hypocrisy of the Democratic leadership team claiming freshman congressmen make continued gaffes because they are young when other members think 16-year-olds should be voting:
Omar is 37 years old. This is the same party that at the same time thinks 16 year olds should vote and children can change their gender. https://t.co/Q9ioLUW2Od
— Jeremy Frankel (@FrankelJeremy) March 7, 2019
Although there hasn’t been a vote on Pressley’s amendment, American 16-year-olds are a long way from hitting the polls. HR 1 could skate through the House, but it is unlikely to receive a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.