Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy proposes raising voting age to 25

By: - May 11, 2023 9:10 pm

Vivek Ramaswamy, a 37-year-old running to be the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, spoke about how to bring young voters into the conservative movement, and why he believes the voting age should be raised to 25. Gov. Kim Reynolds introduced him at event at Royal Flooring in Urbandale May 11, 2023. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Vivek Ramaswamy told a group of young Republicans in Urbandale Thursday that raising the voting age will make American youth more patriotic and politically involved.

At 37 years old, Ramaswamy is the youngest candidate running for president in the 2024 nominating cycle. While the entrepreneur has spoken about trying to engage more young people in the conservative movement, he also said young Americans are entitled and do not respect the privilege of being a member of the country.

“We can’t anymore just be a country that you inherit,” he said. “We have to become a country that we all have a stake in creating, in building together. … We don’t live in a direct democracy, we live in a constitutional republic. And that means something.”

When the country lowered the voting age to 18 in 1971, it was in the context of the Vietnam draft, Ramaswamy said. But young Americans today do not have that same civic duty, he said, pointing to the 25% recruitment deficit for military service in 2022.

Ramaswamy said he would support a constitutional amendment to raise the voting age to 25 but allowing for voting rights at age 18 for people who serve in the U.S. military or as a first responder, or “at least” pass the civics test that immigrants are required to pass in order to gain U.S. citizenship.

Vivek Ramaswamy, a GOP presidential hopeful, suggested raising the voting age to 25 at an event focused on young conservatives at Royal Flooring in Urbandale on May 11, 2023. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The event at Royal Flooring was hosted by Dallas County Republicans, collaborating with conservative youth groups including Iowa Federation of Young Republicans, the Bull Moose Club and the Drake University Law School Republican Club.

When Ramaswamy introduced his proposed constitutional amendment, there was some discontent in the crowd. Politico reported that some of his campaign staff didn’t support the idea. But some young Iowans said they were amenable to raising the voting age.

Erik Osborne, a 19-year-old from Johnston, said he’s “1000% supportive” of the idea to raise the voting age to 25. He said the frontal lobes of the brain are not fully developed until age 25, so “that’s a good time” to be allowed to start voting. There’s some dispute over the importance of age 25 in brain development.

Osborne said if such a constitutional amendment was approved, he would choose to take a civics test over doing six months of service.


Sarah Gruber of Altoona said she thought it was an “interesting” proposal. Gruber, 27, said she was not as informed as she should have been while voting for the first time at age 18. While some people go to the ballot box informed, she said it was fair to be concerned about uniformed voters.

“How many young Iowans or young people in general just go full willy-nilly on the voting ballots?” Gruber said. “I know at 18, I really had no idea what I was doing at first … You should need to know what an illegal immigrant into this country knows to become a citizen.”

Gruber said she could see Ramaswamy being a good vice president for another candidate, who would be able to bring in a younger and more diverse base of supporters. In addition to Ramaswamy, Gruber said she plans to see former President Donald Trump in Des Moines Saturday, and wants to see Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if he officially joins the 2024 race.

Ramaswamy also called for ending affirmative action, shutting down the U.S. Department of Education and FBI, and limiting TikTok and other “addictive” social media platforms for teens under age 16.

While Ramaswamy supported raising the voting age, he also spoke about getting more young people involved in conservative politics. He called for conservatives to take on “woke-ism” and to try to persuade young people who are looking for purpose to embrace national pride, faith and the nuclear family structure. He said young people are looking to satisfy a “moral hunger” that Republicans can sate with a patriotic message.

“It is also our opportunity in the conservative movement right now to step up,” Ramaswamy said. “Let’s level up and fill that void with a vision of American national identity that runs so deep that dilutes the woke voices to irrelevance. That is how we win.”


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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.