Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is proposing that the U.S. raise the voting age to 25, with exceptions for those 18 and older who serve in the military, work as emergency responders or take a naturalization test.
“The United States faces a 25% recruitment deficit in the military and just 16% of Gen Z say they’re proud to be American,” Ramaswamy said in a statement. “The absence of national pride is a serious threat to our Republic’s survival.”
“At a time when young Americans are taught to celebrate their differences, Civic Duty Voting — and in particular the service path — creates a sense of shared purpose and experience,” he added.
The conservative entrepreneur notes on his campaign website that while the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race and gender, it does not “expressly guarantee universal voting.”
“This is intentional: we live in a Constitutional republic, not a direct democracy,” according to the site, which adds, “Voting is a privilege, and civic duty is a proper precondition for enjoying that privilege.”
The proposal would require a constitutional amendment, which Ramaswamy acknowledged represents a “high hurdle.” He also recognized that “not everyone will like this proposal.”
“It will take persuasion to convince many of its merits, but I’m ready to take that on,” he said on Twitter.
Republicans have increasingly struggled with younger voters, particularly on issues such as the environment and gun violence.
Ramaswamy is currently polling around 3 percent among Republican primary voters, according to a polling average by FiveThirtyEight. He and other current and potential GOP candidates remain well behind former President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not yet officially entered the race but is widely expected to do so.