Democrat Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a far-left ‘Squad’ member, called for allowing “incarcerated citizens” to vote in federal elections while referencing her support for permitting individuals as young as 16 years of age to cast a ballot.
Pressley made the comments during a Wednesday press conference while introducing legislation alongside Democrat Vermont Sen. Peter Welch that would restore felons’ voting rights.
“That’s why we’re here today, to introduce the Inclusive Democracy Act — a historic, brand new, first-of-its-kind bill that will end the stain of felony disenfranchisement in America and guarantee the right to vote for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated citizens,” Pressley said.
“Our bill is a reflection of bold, progressive, democratic values. Because of Republicans and the Supreme Court stopping at nothing to undermine voting rights and to exclude Black and brown folks from participating in our democracy, we must be just as relentless at protecting and expanding access to the ballot box, including for incarcerated citizens,” she continued.
In late 2022, approximately 4.6 million people were unable to vote due to a felony conviction, according to a study by the Sentencing Project, a nonpartisan research group. The same study found that Black and Hispanic citizens are disproportionately likely to be disenfranchised due to felony convictions.
The “Squad” member pivoted to how “Jim Crow” is not “behind us” and spoke of her support for allowing individuals as young as 16 to vote.
“When the former occupant of the White House can lead a violent insurrection and still run for president while nearly five million citizens can have a criminal record and not even cast a ballot, Jim Crow is not behind us,” Pressley said at the conference.
“Our democracy is on the line, and the stakes could not be higher. As a Boston city councilor prior to my time here in Congress, I was proud to advocate for expanded access to the ballot box. Requiring ballots be made available in multiple languages, expanding early voting in local elections. And in Congress, I led efforts and legislation to lower the federal voting age to 16 and urged the DOJ to aggressively protect voting rights and to fight against voter suppression.”
“So I have been — and I will continue to fight — for voting rights for everyone,” she said.
The far-left legislation would additionally require incarcerated individuals to be educated on their voting rights and offer systems and resources for voting registration, The Associated Press reported. The bill also requires means to vote by mail for incarcerated people.
States and territories currently determine a citizen’s voting eligibility for all levels of government. The proposed bill would not change states’ ability to expand or restrict access for state or local elections.
The legislation faces long odds of being passed by the Republican-controlled House.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.