It’s no secret that younger voters, without the attendant responsibilities contingent on reaching adulthood, tend to swing far more to the political Left than older voters, so the move is a transparent and cynical attempt to gain more voters for the Democratic Party, but Pressley tried to pass it off as germinating from her concern for younger voters. She stated, “Our young people are at the forefront of some of the most existential crises facing our communities and our society at large. I believe that those who will inherit the nation we design here in Congress by virtue of our policies and authority should have a say in who represents them.”
She added, “The time has come: Our young people deserve to have the opportunity to have their right to vote. We celebrate them often and lift them up as foot soldiers of movements. We thank them for their sweat equity that they expend at the forefront of change, and they should have the opportunity to be respected and celebrated as ballot-casters.”
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has referred to H.R. 1 as the "Democrat Politician Protection Act," said on the Senate floor, "One of our two major political parties has begun embracing one radical, half-baked socialist proposal after another. It's really a sight to see," adding that he would not bring H.R. 1 up for a vote in the Senate. He concluded, "This sprawling 622-page doorstop is never going to become law. I certainly don't plan to even bring it to the floor here in the Senate.”
As boston.com notes, “In 1971, the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age for federal, state, and local elections from 21 to 18. Sen. Ted Kennedy, the late Massachusetts Democrat, argued at the time that getting the country’s youth to participate in the democratic process was ‘the most important single principle we can pursue as a nation.’”
The Supreme Court ruled in 1970 that Congress could change the voting age for federal elections but state and local elections could not be altered. Last year, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) proposed a constitutional amendment to allow 16-year-olds to vote in all elections.
Criticism abounded regarding Pressley’s proposal; MassGOP chairman Jim Lyons told the Boston Herald, “It’s simply wrong. Almost all 16-year-olds I know I don’t believe should have the privilege or the authority to vote. They simply haven’t matured to the level that they can make those types of decisions.” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker echoed, “I did raise three teenagers, and based on that I’d be pretty dubious about lowering it to 16.”
Mary Connaughton, a director at the Pioneer Institute, and Mary Lou Daxland, president of the Massachusetts Republican Assembly, noted that 16-year-olds commonly lack knowledge of how government works. Connaughton said, “It seems reckless and educationally irresponsible to allow underage students to vote when they haven’t even been instructed in the basics of U.S. history, civics, or the facts of our democracy." Daxland added, “16-year-olds today don’t even know how the government works in Washington. How are they going to be able to vote if they don’t even know how government works?”