Says his proposal “can create a sense of shared purpose and responsibility amongst young Americans to become educated citizens”
Indian American Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy wants to raise the voting age for most Americans to 25, unless they do at least six months of military service or pass a civic test given to immigrants.
Ramaswamy’s campaign announced the biotech entrepreneur and “anti-woke” activist’s push for a US Constitutional amendment promoting “civic duty voting,” which he announced in a news release and detailed during a campaign event in Urbandale, Iowa, Thursday.
Read: Vivek Ramaswamy: from suspected vanity campaigner to a contender (May 10, 2023)
Suggesting the “absence of national pride is a serious threat to the future of our country” Ramaswamy argued his proposal “can create a sense of shared purpose and responsibility amongst young Americans to become educated citizens.”
On Twitter during his Iowa event, Ramaswamy acknowledged, “I understand not everyone will like this proposal and that it will take persuasion to convince many of its merits, but I’m ready to take that on.”
At age 37, Ramaswamy is the youngest person competing for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination in a field that already includes several candidates in their 70s, including former President Donald Trump and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Fellow Indian American rival, former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, 51, has made the call for a new generation of political leadership central to her campaign, even positing that cognitive testing should be required for older politicians.
Read: Vivek Ramaswamy enters Republican race for White House (February 22, 2023)
As part of his proposal, Ramaswamy argued that his plan would require “no additional government bureaucracy” to administer, saying debate generated by his proposal “will itself catalyze a long overdue conversation in America about what it means to be a citizen and how to foster civic pride in the next generation.”
“There needs to be some civic experience you need to have gone through in order to actually vote,” Ramaswamy told Politico earlier. “That experience could be living seven years as an adult and voting at age 25. That experience could be direct service to the country or some first responder service,” or, he added, passing a civics test.
The founding fathers didn’t get it “quite right” when they tied the right to vote to land ownership, Ramaswamy was quoted as saying. Similarly, it was wrong to have denied a vote to women and African Americans, he said.
But there’s something to the notion that “you value a country more — you value anything more, including a country — that you don’t just simply inherit, but that you have a stake in building and creating in some way,” he said.
Ramaswamy acknowledged to Politico that there had been “vehement objections” from his team. But, he added, “we’re doing it.”
Read: Vivek Ramaswamy exploring 2024 presidential run (February 14, 2023)
Dismissing the idea that his proposal would discriminate against a certain group of citizens, Ramaswamy said, “My response to that is, the objective is not to stop people from voting. It’s to value voting itself and everybody’s equal and on the same foot at the age of 25 and onward.”
The national voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 with the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971.
After Republicans’ less than stellar performance in last year’s midterm elections, a handful of conservative commentators called for raising the voting age, though the idea failed to gain significant traction, Politico noted.