Progressives in the House of Representatives attempted to push an amendment that would have lowered the federal voting age down from 18 to 16 as part of the H.R 1 voting rights package on Wednesday.
The vote failed after a 125-302 vote in the House, though the majority of Democrats supported the measure at 125-93. The amendment was promoted by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who stated:
"A sixteen-year-old in 2021 possesses a wisdom and a maturity that comes from 2021 challenges, 2021 hardships, and 2021 threats," Rep. Ayanna Pressley, said in a Monday statement. "Now is the time for us to demonstrate the courage that matches the challenges of the modern-day sixteen- and seventeen-year-old."
The bill was reintroduced on Monday by Pressley, Rep. Grace Meng, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky. Pressley expressed “shock” that lowering the legal voting age to 16 was a contentious issue. She made the comment during a Facebook Live conversation with Rep. Barbara Lee and “anti-racist” author Ibram X. Kendi.
"Dr. Kendi, I was shocked by how polarizing an issue this was, and listen, when I would tell people [the late Rep.] John Lewis is an original co-sponsor of this — you know, our young people deserve to have a stakeholder in our democracy," Pressley said in response to Kendi, who argued that lowering the voting age is an example of anti-racist policy.
Proposals to lower the voting age are not new. The amendment to lower the voting age was previously attached to H.R.1. in March 2019, where it failed with only 126 in favor.
"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 to the House in 2019. "In this country, we affirm that when a person walks into the voting booth and pulls that lever, there is no meritocracy or hierarchy. The booth is the equalizer."