Measure Amending H.R. 1 Would Lower Federal Election Voting Age from 18 to 16 Years Old
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) today introduced an amendment to lower the federal election voting age from 18-years-old to 16-years-old. The reintroduction comes ahead of debate in the House of Representatives on H.R. 1, the For The People Act — transformative legislation that strengthens democracy and puts power back in the hands of the American people.
In some states, including Massachusetts, 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote so that upon their 18th birthday, they can participate in the federal election process. The lawmakers’ amendment would expand these efforts so that people as young as 16-years-old can elect members of Congress and the President of the United States.
“A sixteen-year-old in 2021 possesses a wisdom and a maturity that comes from 2021 challenges, 2021 hardships, and 2021 threats,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Now is the time for us to demonstrate the courage that matches the challenges of the modern-day sixteen and seventeen-year-old. My amendment with Congresswomen Meng and Schakowsky would lower the voting age for federal elections from eighteen to sixteen years of age, and allow young people to have a say in our federal elections and the policies that impact their lives today and will shape the nation in their lifetime.”
“Our young people, including 16- and 17-year-olds, continue to fight and advocate for so many issues that they are passionate about from gun safety to the climate crisis,” said Congresswoman Meng. “They have been tremendously engaged on policies affecting their lives and their futures. Their activism, determination, and efforts to demand change are inspirational and have truly impacted our nation. It’s time to give them a voice in our democracy by permitting them to be heard at the ballot box. That is why I have continued to sponsor my constitutional amendment to lower the voting age to 16 for all elections (H.J.Res. 23). After all, 16- and 17-year-olds are legally permitted to work and drive. They also pay federal income taxes. I believe that it is right and fair to also allow them to vote. Let’s let them be heard and make their voices count. Let’s give them a say in choosing who they want their government representatives to be. I’m proud to stand with our young people and my colleagues Reps. Pressley and Schakowsky in introducing this amendment to give 16- and 17-year-olds a vote at the ballot box for federal elections, and I urge my colleagues in the House to support it.”
“All over the country, and in my district especially, we see young activists working tirelessly to make their voices heard – from battling climate change and gun violence to advocating for racial justice and economic equality,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Our nation’s leadership should be accountable to this younger generation who will be most impacted by these existential threats. By lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years old, we can ensure that our youth have a say on these issues that will impact them well into their future.”
The full text of the amendment is available here.
Congresswoman Pressley has stood witness to deep and meaningful levels of engagement and mobilization by 16- and 17-year-olds. In 2019, Congresswoman Pressley participated in the Boston Youth Justice Rally, organized by “I Have a Dream,” a statewide coalition of youth organizers. At the rally, Congresswoman Pressley stood in solidarity with youth advocates, demanding more youth jobs and an end to youth criminalization.