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Majority of House Dems Vote in Favor of Amendment to Lower Voting Age

Rep. Ayanna Pressley questions during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., August 24, 2020. (Tom Williams/Reuters)

An amendment that would have lowered the federal voting age from 18 to 16 as part of the H.R. 1 voting rights package failed to pass the House on Wednesday but received support from a majority of House Democrats.

The measure brought by Representatives Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Grace Meng of New York, and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois failed in a 125-302 vote, with 125 Democrats voting in favor of the amendment and 93 Democrats voting against it, according to C-SPAN.

“A sixteen-year-old in 2021 possesses a wisdom and a maturity that comes from 2021 challenges, 2021 hardships, and 2021 threats,” Pressley said in a statement on Monday. “Now is the time for us to demonstrate the courage that matches the challenges of the modern-day sixteen- and seventeen-year-old.”

The amendment similarly failed in March 2019, with just 126 votes in the House the first time it was added to H.R. 1.

“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,” the Massachusetts congresswoman said on the House floor 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.”

Pressley, a member of the progressive “Squad” said last month during a Facebook Live chat with Representative Barbara Lee (D., Calif.) and author Ibram X. Kendi that she was “shocked” that lowering the voting age is a “polarizing” topic.

Kendi argued that lowering the voting age is an example of “anti-racist” policy.

“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.

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