Rep. Ayanna Pressley introduces bill to lower the federal voting age from 18 to 16

The Massachusetts lawmaker says that if young people are trusted with other things like drivers' licenses, employment and tax paying, they should be trusted with voting as well

Ayanna Pressley (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Young people have been emerging as leaders in movements pushing for stricter gun laws and marching for their lives in rallies advocating for safer schools.

So, Rep. Ayanna Pressley thinks it only makes sense to include today’s young leaders aged 16 and 17 in the decision-making process on a larger scale.

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On Wednesday, the Massachusetts congresswoman introduced a bill that would lower the voting age from 18 to 16 to allow younger people to vote, The Boston Globe reports.

“Our young people are at the forefront of some of the most existential crises facing our communities and our society at large,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “I believe that those who will inherit the nation we design here in Congress by virtue of our policies and authority should have a say in who represents them.”

According to the simple amendment, which was introduced to H.R. 1, a government reform bill, it would mandate states to allow 16 and 17-year-old U.S. citizens to vote in federal elections like the House, Senate, and the presidency, starting next year.

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Pressley said that youth-led movements contributed to her decision to develop the bill.

Currently there are 16 states that gives 17-year-olds the approval to vote in congressional primaries if they’re 18 by the time the general election rolls around, according to FairVote,

“The time has come: Our young people deserve to have the opportunity to have their right to vote,” Pressley said. “We celebrate them often and lift them up as foot soldiers of movements. We thank them for their sweat equity that they expend at the forefront of change, and they should have the opportunity to be respected and celebrated as ballot-casters.”

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However, even if HR 1 passes, it will still face formidable challenges, the Globe reported. Republican Senate majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell is challenging the larger bill, which focuses on campaign finance reform, ethics and voting rights and is attempting to stop them from getting a Senate vote.

The last time the voting age was lowered was in 1971 when the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

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