There are a lot of horrific ideas in H.R. 1, the House Democrats’ so-called “For the People Act”—from banning Voter ID to forcing states to legalize ballot harvesting to turning the FEC into a partisan political weapon. Combined, these provisions would change the landscape of American elections forever, in ways that Democrats obviously believe will work to their benefit.
But buried under the avalanche of bad ideas is a provision the media hasn’t given much attention, but that could ultimately prove the most catastrophic of all. Tucked away in Section 1094, 110 pages into the bill, is a brief section which hints at the left’s ambition of lowering the voting age to let minors—in other words, children—vote.
While the text of the bill only requires states to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, this is what a trojan horse—or a trojan donkey—looks like on paper.
States currently have freedom to design their own rules around minors pre-registering to vote before they turn 18, which has been the voting age since the 26th Amendment passed in 1971.
Several progressive states like California, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon already allow minors as young as 16 to pre-register. Instead of the current state-by-state approach progressives are attempting, H.R. 1 would impose these pre-registration rules every state in America.
But the even larger ploy is obvious: Massachusetts and Oregon have recently considered legislation to drop the pretense of “preregistration” and grant full voting rights to minors. H.R. 1 would ready the field for the federal mandate progressive activists really want—lowering the voting age across the nation.
If the left can get 16 and 17 year olds “pre-registered,” it will only be a small psychological jump to turn them into active registered voters. Over one hundred Democratic members of Congress already supported amendment to H.R. 1 to do exactly that—lower the mandatory minimum voting age to 16 nationwide in federal elections.
Of course, the radical left fringe, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, was on board.
But prominent Democratic leaders like James Clyburn, Adam Schiff, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and supposedly more moderate Democrats with bigger ambitions like Charlie Crist and Abigail Spanberger went on the record supporting it too when it was first introduced in 2019.
Why is the left so interested in lowering the voting age? As Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky laid out in explicit terms, it’s because they believe young people are overwhelmingly left-leaning. They are “working tirelessly,” she said, “to make their voices heard – from battling climate change and gun violence to advocating for racial justice and economic equality.”
A group at Tufts University has already ranked the major swing states based on how easily an increase in the youth vote could change the results of a presidential election—the top targets being Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. The group has also ranked Congressional districts by the ease with which a larger youth vote could flip the district. They have their eyes on some of the most closely fought races in the country.
Imagine if more 16-year olds had “pro-life generation” stickers on their car or “Make America Great Again” hats on their head. How hard would Democrats fight against a federal mandate to lower the voting age? They might even filibuster, a tool they now decry as racist but have used innumerable times in the past.
But Congresswoman Schakowsky isn’t even the idea’s most cynical advocate. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, the lead sponsor of the amendment to lower the voting age to 16, said that a “sixteen-year-old in 2021 possesses a wisdom and a maturity that comes from 2021 challenges, 2021 hardships, and 2021 threats.”
In other words, this logic might go, young people have grown wiser faster during the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But go back to 2019, when Congresswoman Pressley first introduced the amendment. She said on the House floor that a “sixteen-year-old in 2019 possesses a wisdom and a maturity that comes from 2019 challenges, hardships, and threats.”
The left, as we have seen so often throughout this past year, is copying and pasting pre-crisis priorities and rhetoric into the country’s post-crisis agenda. And, like open immigration policies, Democrats see a lower voting age as a way to change the electorate in its favor.
It isn’t hard to understand why Democrats are acting now. After President Trump scrambled the typical coalitions supporting both parties and brought more working-class voters and minorities into the Republican party, the left has lost faith that “demographics is destiny” and that, sooner or later, they would own a permanent majority simply through demographic change alone.
Young people, though, continue to be reliable Democratic voters.
The effort also fits the race-obsessed dialogue on the left today. Ibram X. Kendi, probably the current leading leftist on matters of race, said, “the younger the better” when it comes to voting—in essence because he believes it will make it easier to pass the left-wing “equity” (or socialist) agenda.
Yet, Congresswoman Pressley professes to be “shocked” that such an approach is “polarizing.” Oh, to be young.