Pelosi Says She Backs Lowering Voting Age to 16

March 14, 2019
John Bowden
The Hill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) voiced her support on Thursday [March 14] 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.”

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.

Questions Using Close Reading and Critical Thinking:

  1. The first section of an article should answer the questions “Who?”, “What?”, “When?”, and “Where?” Identify the four Ws of this article. (Note: The rest of the news article provides details on the why and/or how.)
  2. Does this article have any bias? Why or why not?
  3. Why does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believe the voting age should be lowered to 16?
  4. What recently happened in Congress with the amendment to the Democrat’s voting rights bill that included this measure to lower the federal voting age? How can this action be viewed as a step towards progress?
  5. Explain the counterargument to lowering the federal voting age to 16. Provide at least two reasons why lowering the voting age to 16 would be a bad idea.
  6. Do you believe the voting age should be lowered to 16 or remain at 18 years old? Why or why not? Would lowering the age truly change voter turnout like Pelosi hopes it will?
  7. What other rights in the U.S. have federal age limits? Do you think the ages set for these are appropriate, or do they also need revision? Explain your perspective on each.

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