House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that she would support a law allowing 16-year-olds to vote.
The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1971, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 – lowering the temperature on Vietnam-era political protests borne of young adults’ frustration at political outsider status despite a military draft that cost more than 25,000 Americans younger than age 21 their lives.
Pelosi and some younger, liberal members of her caucus proposed another ratcheting-down this month as part of a broad voting-rights and anti-corruption bill, which passed but has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.
An amendment offered by freshman Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts failed to pass the House in a 126-305 vote.
Pelosi said Thursday that she supports the idea: ‘I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16. I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about government, to be able to vote.’
Ready? Brace-faced teens could vote before they retire their learner’s permits and drive cars by themselves, if an idea championed by some liberal Democrats were to become law
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday during her weekly press conference that she wants America’s minimum voting age lowered from 18 to 16
Start ’em young: Democrats who support a lower voting age say children should have an earlier stake in the democratic process
‘My view is that I would welcome that,’ she added, saying ‘I have been in that position for a long time.’
Pelosi made it clear that she was not speaking for the Democratic caucus.
Pelosi has publicly advocated for syncing up the driving and age with the voting age since at least July 2015, when she told a liberal teen organizing group that she was ‘all for’ it.
‘When kids are in school, they’re so interested, they’re so engaged,’ she said at a Generation Progress summit in Washington.
Pelosi supported a 2016 ballot initiative in her native San Francisco that would have allowed children age 16 and 17 top vote in citywide elections. The measure failed, but by barely 15,000 votes. More than 50,000 voters left the question blank.
Austria, India, Morocco and Switzerland all allow 16-year-olds to vote, and other nations permit it for local contests.
Then-president Richard nixon signed the 16th Amendment into law in 1971, giving 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds the fright to vote in the U.S. at a time when thousands in that age group were being drafted into a war in Vietnam that would claim their lives
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley proposed a vote-at-16 amendment to a giant voting-rights and anti-corruption bill this month, but it failed to pass
Pelosi has favored syncing up the voting age with the driving age since at least 2016, when she told a liberal youth organizing conference that she was ‘all for’ the idea
Allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote is an idea championed almost exclusively by socialists, libertarians and liberal groups like Rock the Vote
Most of them reason that teens who are old enough to have jobs and pay taxes should be permitted to have political voices.
Pressley made the same case in a March 27 floor speech, saying that ‘beginning at the age of sixteen, 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.’
‘A sixteen-year-old in 2019 possesses a wisdom and a maturity that comes from 2019 challenges, hardships and threats,’ she said.
In the United States, support for lowering the voting age is almost universally a left-wing phenomenon.
The Socialist Party USA, the Green Party of Texas, Rock the Vote and the National Youth Rights Association all back the idea. The NYRA also supports abolishing minimum drinking ages and curfew laws.