WASHINGTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley is proposing to lower the voting age from 18 years old to 16 in an amendment she introduced in Congress Tuesday.
“Across this nation, young people are leading the way – from gun violence, to climate change, to the future of work – they are organizing, mobilizing, and calling us to action,” Pressley said in a statement.
In addition to youth involvement in social movements, Pressley said that about 2 million people ages 16 and 17 were employed in 2018 and paid taxes.
The 26th Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1971 during the Vietnam War, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Pressley noted that the late senator from Massachusetts Ted Kennedy was behind the push to expand voting rights.
She said the United States is at a similar crossroads today.
“Young people are the forefront at some of our most existential crises,” Pressley said. “The time has come. Our young people deserve to have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.”
Felix Brody and Jack Torres are juniors at Somerville High School. Both are part of the Vote 16 coalition, a youth movement aiming to give a voice to those who are civically engaged. They say 18 is an age when most are transitioning out of the home and not thinking about voting.
“So starting that civic engagement and starting those responsibilities as a 16-year-old leads to a life in trust in the government,” Torres said.
On Beacon Hill, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin says he welcomes the debate, but making it happen would require changing the Constitution.
“The United States Constitution speaks of 18-year-old being the minimum age. There is some language in that amendment that does allow for Congress to take some action,” Galvin said.
Pressley’s proposal is an amendment to the Democrats’ “For The People Act” which addresses campaign finance reform, voting rights and government ethics.