‘Squad’ member Pressley says she's ‘shocked’ that lowering voting age to 16 is polarizing issue

Columnist backs 'Squad' member Pressley's push to lower voting age to 16

A Newsweek op-ed says Rep. Ayanna Pressley is right, 16-year-olds deserve the right to vote. Campus Reform's Cabot Phillips reacts.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., on Thursday said she was "shocked" that lowering the legal voting age to 16 is a "polarizing" subject of debate.

Pressley ‒ a co-sponsor of a resolution to H.R. 1 that aims to lower the voting age to 16 ‒ made the comment on Thursday during a Facebook Live conversation with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and author Ibram Kendi.

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"Dr. Kendi, I was shocked by how polarizing an issue this was, and listen, when I would tell people [the late Rep.] John Lewis is an original co-sponsor of this — you know, our young people deserve to have a stakeholder in our democracy," Pressley, a member of the so-called "Squad" said in response to Kendi, who said lowering the voting age is an example of anti-racist policy.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley appeared in a video posted Thursday announcing that she has gone bald due to alopecia. (Courtesy of The Root and G/O Media via AP)

Kendi responded by saying that one of the areas of discussion he has touched on frequently is the "disenfranchisement" of Black and Brown Americans.

"Young Black and Brown folks, in particular, are facing the brunt of disenfranchisement," he said. "And when ... the younger generations are more predominantly Black and Brown, it sort of leads to a greater level of disenfranchisement."

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Kendi continued: "Anything that can ensure younger people can vote — the younger the better is then going to allow more Black and Brown folks to vote and thereby bring a greater sense of multiracial democracy to this country."

Republican opponents of a policy that would lower the voting age to 16 argue that the move would guarantee more votes for Democrats because younger people lean left, according to a 2018 study from Pew Research that found Democrats have a 27-percentage-point advantage among millennial voters.

Pressley first introduced H.J.Res 23 ‒ her first proposed legislation as a congresswoman ‒ in 2019. The resolution failed after getting 126 House votes on March 18, 2019.

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"Beginning at the age of 16, young people are contributing to both the labor force and their local economies by paying income taxes, and yet they are deprived of the opportunity to exercise their right to vote," Pressley said on the House floor at the time. "In this country, we affirm that when a person walks into the voting booth and pulls that lever, there is no meritocracy or hierarchy. The booth is the equalizer."

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