FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2019
Brandon Klugman, Vote16USA Campaign Manager
126 MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SUPPORT LOWERING VOTING AGE TO 16 IN HISTORIC VOTE ON HOUSE FLOOR
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last night, 126 members of Congress voted yes in the first-ever vote on a proposal to lower the voting age to 16 on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, an historic milestone for a movement that has been gaining momentum in recent years.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley proposed the amendment to HR.1 on Tuesday, to lower the voting age to 16 for federal elections. Reps. Grace Meng and Jan Schakowsky co-sponsored the amendment. After approval by the Rules Committee, the amendment failed to pass on the House floor, but did earn the support of the majority of the Democratic caucus.
Vote16USA has been working to support youth-led efforts to lower the voting age to 16 on the local level in cities around the country since 2015, and last night’s groundbreaking vote illustrates how mainstream this issue has become.
“Only a couple years ago, just one Member of Congress expressing interest in 16-year-old voting was a huge deal, so to see 126 members vote yes on Rep. Pressley’s amendment is a thrilling sign of how far we’ve come in a short time, and a testament to the fact that support for this issue consistently increases as decision makers are educated about it,” said Brandon Klugman, Vote16 USA Campaign Manager. “We are excited to build on this momentum and we’re optimistic that one day 16-year-old voting will be the norm in the United States.”
Sixteen and 17-year-old voting is a bold idea that has the potential to increase voter turnout and strengthen our democracy in the long run, as voting is a habit and 16 is a better time than 18 to establish that habit. Four cities in Maryland allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in their local elections, and more than 12 countries around the world use a 16-year-old voting age for national or local elections. Young people are currently advocating for the change on the local and state levels from coast to coast.
“Change begins locally, and today’s youth are more politically aware than ever before. Seeing progress in Congress is a huge milestone. The representatives who voted YES on this amendment to lower the voting age voted yes to strengthen our democracy by giving youth a voice in it. I am more motivated than ever, and inspired to continue advocating for a lower voting age. This change will be made,” said Daisy Villalva, a member of the Vote16USA Youth Advisory Board from New York.
In her testimony before the Rules Committee, Rep. Pressley discussed the push to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, quoting the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Over the course of the decades of advocacy that led to the 26th amendment, public opinion on allowing 18-year-olds to vote shifted from 17 percent in favor to 64 percent in favor. Support from so many Members of Congress shows that support for 16-year-old voting is heading in the same direction.
“Rep. Ayanna Pressley made history this week by introducing an amendment on HR.1 that would lower the voting age to 16. When I started my advocacy for this issue a year ago, I never thought this would get national attention let alone support from 126 Members of Congress. Young people across the country are ready to roll up their sleeves, and get to work,” said Alik Schier, a Vote16USA Youth Advisory Board member from Washington, D.C.
“Rep. Pressley’s amendment is a fantastic and crucial step to lowering the voting age both federally and locally. Young people are now aware of national support from our Representatives for our voting rights and that’s very exciting. We are very optimistic for 2020 as we are seeing the political will for Vote16 increase,” said Jason Chen, a Vote16USA Youth Advisory Board member from California.
Vote16USA is a national initiative of the nonpartisan nonprofit Generation Citizen. The initiative works to support youth-led efforts to lower the voting age to 16 and to promote the policy idea on a national level. Learn more at Vote16USA.org.