Pelosi says she backs lowering voting age to 16

Stefani Reynolds

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) voiced her support on Thursday for lowering the federal voting age to 16, telling reporters during a press conference that doing so would be a boon to voter engagement in the U.S.

Pelosi said Thursday that lowering the voting age would drive interest in politics among younger Americans who are learning about the subject in high school. The Speaker said that changing the voting age to 16 would help drive a higher level of voter awareness and turnout.

“I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16,” Pelosi said. “I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about government, to be able to vote.”

Pelosi’s comments Thursday echoed those she has made previously, including in a 2015 New York Times interview in which the Speaker said she was “all for” lowering the voting age.

Pelosi told the Times that she wanted to expand voter access to 16 and 17-year-olds “because when kids are in school, they’re so interested, they’re so engaged.”{mosads}

The California congresswoman supported a local ballot initiative in her home district of San Francisco in 2016 that would have lowered the voting age in municipal elections to 16, known as Proposition F, but the measure was defeated by single digits at the ballot box.

Members of Congress voted down an amendment to the Democrats’ voting rights bill last Thursday that sought to lower the federal voting age to 16, an effort led by freshman Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). Almost 130 lawmakers voted in favor of the amendment, which was described by advocates as a first of its kind proposal to make it to the House floor.

“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,” advocacy group Vote16USA said in a press release.

“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,” the statement added.

Tags Ayanna Pressley Nancy Pelosi
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