On Tuesday, March 5, the House of Representatives voted on a bill introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) to lower the federal voting age to 16. In this historic vote, 126 representatives voted in favor of the bill, including a majority of House Democrats and Texas Republican Michael Burgess.
Pressley’s bill, House Amendment 76 to H.R.1, was a proposed amendment to the For the People Act, a voting rights package that successfully passed the house. It was based on Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-NY) H.J. Res. 23, a bill still in committee that would amend the Constitution to lower the voting age to 16 for all elections.
The reception to Amendment 76 is unprecedented and marks a huge step forward for both the voting age and Youth Rights as a whole, which were barely being discussed in public even one year ago. NYRA has been campaigning for a lower voting age since we were founded in 1998, and we are overjoyed that pro-youth policies are finally close to passing on the national level thanks to our years of local advocacy in towns such as Takoma Park, MD where we helped lower the voting age in 2013.
The vote on Amendment 76 opens up so many possibilities. It gives momentum to H.J. Res 23, which Rep. Meng now plans on making a priority. It gives more weight to the many voting age campaigns across the county. It shows Democrats that a lower voting age is something most of their leaders support. It shows Republicans that lowering the voting age is common sense, not a partisan issue. “Those who pay taxes should have a voice in our democracy”, says Burgess. “As a teen, I worked and payed taxes.”
We expect to see much more voting age legislation passed in the upcoming years as the country realizes that youth deserve equal rights. Contact us about starting a chapter to keep carrying the movement forward!