California Congresswoman and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi publicly came out in support of lowering the legal voting age to 16 years old in a press briefing on Thursday, March 14 on Capitol Hill. Pelosi said that lowering the voting age to 16 years old would further increase youth voter turnout and awareness.
Back in 2015, Pelosi told the New York Times that she favored lowering the voting age as well as expanding voter access for younger individuals between the ages of 16 and 17 years old. During the 2016 elections, the San Francisco representative supported a local ballot that would have lowered the voting age to 16 years old in municipal elections, but it was voted down by voters.
The fight for lowering the voting to 16 and or 17 years old is playing out across the country. From cities to states, various legislators are at the forefront of this particular policy.
On the national level, Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayaana Presley, who is member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the liberal-leaning Congressional Progressive Caucus, proposed an amendment to the For the People Act that would include lowering the legal voting age to 16 years old alongside ending partisan gerrymandering, creating national automatic voter registration, expanding public funding of electoral campaigns, and making Election Day a federal holiday. Almost 130 members in the House voted in favor of the amendment including Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and New York City Congresswoman Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez.
On the local level, Maryland cities such as Takoma Park and Hyattsville have already lowered the voting age to 16 and 17 years old for local city elections. At the state level, Oregon is also considering lowering its voting age to 16 years old as an amendment to its state constitution.
According to FairVote, a national non-profit advocacy group committed to voting rights expansion and electoral reform, analytical research has shown that lowering the voting age to 16 and or 17 years old can increase voter turnout, political discussion, awareness, and participation in civics, and increase the likelihood of voting in the near future as a general habit.
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