Poll: Only 17 Percent Support Lowering the Federal Voting Age to 16

March 20, 2019 Updated: March 20, 2019

A new Rasmussen poll released Tuesday shows only 17 percent of likely U.S. voters support lowering the federal voting age from 18 to 16, with an overwhelming 74 percent rejecting the idea.

The poll comes just days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she personally supported the idea of 16-year-olds voting in federal elections.

According to Rasmussen, the poll shows that only 25 percent of Democrats support lowering the voting age and nine percent of Republicans support this view. Broken down between race, only 32 percent of blacks support lowering the voting age and 16 percent of whites favor that stance.

Both male and female voters are relatively on the same page with this issue, according to Rasmussen. Seventy-seven percent of males surveyed oppose lowering the voting age and 71 percent of females oppose it as well.

Voter at a polling place in Kirkwood, Missouri, on Nov. 6, 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The poll also shows 65 percent of 18- to 39-year-olds oppose lowering the voting age, 77 percent of those aged 40 to 64 do not want to see the voting age lowered, and 84 percent of those 65 or older say the voting age should not be lowered either.

The Rasmussen poll was a survey of 1,000 likely voters and was conducted between March 17-18. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

“I myself, personally—I’m not speaking for my caucus—I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16,” Pelosi said last week. “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.”

Reducing the voting age to 16 was debated on the House floor two weeks ago when it came up as an amendment on the “For The People Act,” a House Democratic passed bill (H.R. 1) that would revamp U.S. election and campaign finance laws.

Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley proposed the amendment, but it was defeated 126-305, with just one Republican, Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, supporting the measure.

The House Speaker joined Democratic Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay Monday in his home state in Ferguson to discuss H.R.1 and the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (H.R.4).

She further explained, “Many years ago, when I was in school, civics was a requirement. Then — remember that? Well, you don’t remember that, but you read about it.”

She added in part, “But then, it became an elective, and I don’t know. There were other things kids took instead. So, the point is that when they are in high school, we see such a heightened interest in history and civics and climate and gun safety and you name it. And that would be a time for them to be registered to vote.”

Voters wait to cast their midterm elections ballots at Burton Barr Library, a polling station in Phoenix.
Voters wait to cast their midterm elections ballots at Burton Barr Library, a polling station in Phoenix, Arizona, on Nov. 6, 2018. (Nicole Neri/Reuters)

Two Democratic presidential candidates, Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris appeared interested in listening to those who support lowering the voting age.

Republicans panned the idea, arguing that Democrats are supportive of the measure simply because younger voters tend to support Democrats more often than Republicans.

“I’m of the opinion that we shouldn’t arbitrarily lower the voting age just because, right now, I believe Democrats think they’ll gain more votes,” said Republican Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis said during debate on the floor of Pressley’s amendment. “I believe it will institutionalize a Democrat majority here in this House of Representatives.”

Since 2013, 13 states have proposed bills to lower the voting age, ranging from school board elections to state elections.

By Kerry Picket

Follow Kerry on Twitter

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