Lawmaker renews national debate over lowering voting age

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Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) sparked a fresh debate over whether younger teenagers are old enough to vote in federal elections when she introduced an amendment that would lower the voting age from 18 to 16.

While the amendment failed to pass the House in a 126-305 vote last week, the debate continues. 

{mosads}Many conservatives, for example, oppose the idea as “radical.”

They include Boston talk radio host and political commentator Jeff Kuhner, who on Saturday challenged Pressley to come on his show “Kuhner Report” to debate the issue.

“Why stop at 16? Why not 15? Or 14? Or 13? This is simply more liberal insanity,” Kuhner tweeted.

Joe Walsh, the former GOP congressman and host of “The Joe Walsh Show” on radio, argued that 15 year olds “have no skin in the game.”

“Respectfully, a 5 year old’s future is at stake every election too, but we don’t let 5 year olds vote,” he tweeted on the same day.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) also weighed in: “Liberals don’t think kids know what gender they are, but are smart enough to vote. It’s a brave new world!”

Pressley and her supporters, however, counter that modern young people have earned a vote.

“The #youth of this nation are the foot soldiers of the movement, expending sweat equity at the forefront of our most existential crises. They deserve the right to be ballot casters,” Pressley tweeted over the weekend.

About half of House Democrats voting for Pressley’s amendment, while almost every House Republican voted against it. 

“Those who pay taxes should have a voice in our democracy. As a teen, I worked & paid taxes. This week I voted for an amdt that would give young adults the right to vote – it failed by a wide margin. I support policies that encourage work & this could be part of the conversation,” tweeted Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), the lone Republican who voted for the amendment.

An op-ed in The New York Times by child development expert Laurence Steinberg that earned wide attention argued that the student movement launched after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., last year proved young people are ready to vote.

Writer Noah Berlatsky in a supportive op-ed for CNN on Saturday argued that young people are leading political movements now by rallying for gun control and confronting senators over climate change legislation.

But RealClearPolitics co-founder Tom Bevan in a trending response on Sunday dismissed the first lines of the op-ed as “the opening line of an Onion piece.”

The Constitution does not prohibit states from setting a lower voting age, and some cities have considered or adopted legislation to lower the minimum voting age. Many states allow 16-year-olds to preregister to vote. Oregon is currently considering lowering the state’s minimum voting age from 18 to 16, according to CNN.

Tags Ayanna Pressley Michael Burgess
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