Local congressman supports lowering federal voting age to 16

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, announced Monday he was in favor of lowering the mandatory minimum voting age from 18 to 16 years old in federal elections, according to a news release.

The effort comes in response to an amendment to House Resolution 1 that calls for the measure allowing people age 16 and up to vote in federally held elections.

“There is a growing sense of vigilance and civic engagement among our nation’s youth,” Gonzalez said in the release. “From McAllen, Texas to Washington, D.C., our nation’s young people are holding the federal government to the highest standards and demanding that public servants at every level of government honor the promises they made to uphold the Constitution and serve their fellow Americans.”

The amendment, introduced by U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-MA, is the congresswoman’s first amendment since winning the election last year and tied to a Democratic-backed bill designed to expand voting rights.

According to an Associated Press report, Pressley acknowledged how young people all across the nation are already pushing for policy change, including issues like climate change and gun control.

Pressley said in a news release last week that the amendment was filed in part to “restore the people’s faith that the American government works for the public interest, not special interests.”

“My amendment to H.R. 1 strikes at one of the fundamental goals of this legislation by ensuring that those who have a stake in our democracy will also have a say in our democracy. By lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years of age, my amendment would allow young people to have a say in our federal elections, to help shape and inform the policies that will set the course for the future,” Pressley stated.

Gonzalez said that if young adults are allowed in the workplace and support the economy — then they should be allowed to be heard as part of our democracy.

“… I believe it is my duty as a member of Congress to not only elevate their voice, but to give them the most fundamental tool in our democracy — the right to vote, and that is why I supported this measure in the House,” the congressman said.