Around New England

Even Many House Democrats Reject Ayanna Pressley’s Proposal To Lower Voting Age In Federal Elections To 16

March 5, 2021

The majority of the country does not want it and neither does the majority of Congress.

However, U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Dorchester) and the majority of the U.S. House delegation representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts want to allow 16-year-old and 17-year-olds to vote in federal elections.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1 on Wednesday, March 3. It’s a voting reform bill that includes provisions such as creating automatic voter registration across the country, allowing ex-felons to vote, expanding absentee voting, and requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns, among other things. It passed 220-210, with no Republicans voting in favor of it.

Although it changes the voting system in the country, not every proposed change was accepted by Congress. The one amendment to the bill that Pressley proposed:  lowering the voting age to 16 in federal elections, was rejected overwhelmingly.

Her amendment (N0. 57) failed 125-302. No Republicans voted in favor of it and 93 Democrats voted against it.

However, when it comes to the Massachusetts legislature, seven of the nine voted in favor of it.  The only two who voted against the amendment were U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston) and U.S. Representative Bill Keating (D-Bourne).

This is not the first time Pressley proposed this amendment. She did in 2019 as well and Congress overwhelmingly rejected it then, 126-305.

When asked whether or not these groups should have voting rights, Americans overwhelmingly rejected the idea in a 2019 poll conducted by The Hill. It found that 84 percent opposed letting 16-year-olds vote while 16 percent supported it. For 17-year-olds, there was more support. Although 75 percent rejected the idea, 25 percent supported it.

Younger voters tend to vote Democratic at a higher rate than their elder peers. CNBC’s exit poll from the 2020 presidential election showed that 65 percent of voters in the 18 to 24 range voted for President Joe Biden while just 31 percent voted for former President Donald Trump.