A Democratic congresswoman from New York has introduced legislation that would extend the right to vote to anyone over the age of 16.
Rep. Grace Meng wants to repeal the 26th Amendment to the Constitution and replace it with new language that would lower the minimum voting age to allow 16-year-olds the right to vote.
Meng has not released a statement as to why she believes lowering the minimum voting age would be beneficial, but her legislation was introduced just days before the 53rd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Unfortunately, the #VRA has been weakened by the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, and subsequent discriminatory state laws and court decisions have made access to the ballot box even harder. 2/3
— Grace Meng (@RepGraceMeng) August 6, 2018
The 26th Amendment was passed in 1971, establishing a national minimum voting age of 18. Prior to that, the minimum voting age was 21.
But with the start of World War II, pressure began to mount to lower the voting age to 18 because that was the age when men could be drafted into military service.
In his 1954 State of the Union address, President Dwight Eisenhower declared: “For years our citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have, in time of peril, been summoned to fight for America. They should participate in the political process that produces this fateful summons.”
The amendment’s passage came one year after a Supreme Court decision that said Congress could enforce a minimum voting age in national elections but not in state or local races. The amendment was designed to establish a uniform voting age for all elections.
Naturally, Meng’s proposal received swift criticism.
16 year old SHOULD NOT have the right to vote. They are minors. Many of them would vote for issues they no NOTHING about, they don’t pay taxes and are more interested in dating drama, football games and the next party!!!
— Sheila Simone (@sheilaasimone) August 13, 2018
For Meng’s proposal to be successful and have the 16-year-old voting age be part of the Constitution, it would need to receive votes from two-thirds of the House and Senate.
Last month, a bill sponsored by Meng known as the “Menstrual Equality Act” that would allow women to buy menstrual hygiene products with money from health flexible spending accounts passed the House and now goes to the Senate as part of a broader, bipartisan bill to expand the accounts.
Health flexible spending accounts allow individuals to use pre-tax dollars taken from their paychecks to pay for eligible health care expenses.
Meng said the bill will help make menstrual hygiene products more accessible and affordable.
‘The passage of my legislation is a major leap forward in our fight for menstrual equality,’ Meng said in a statement. “Menstrual hygiene products are essential and necessary for women, and deserve to be items that are permitted to be purchased with health flexible spending account funds.”
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