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Under Ramaswamy's desired amendment to the U.S. Constitution, those ages 18-25 would be allowed to vote only if they participate in a six-month "national service requirement" — in the military or as a first responder — or complete a civics test identical to the one required to become a naturalized citizen.
The policy, Ramaswamy told a crowd at the Royal Flooring furniture store in Urbandale, is "ambitious," and some "will not agree with it." But he described it as a critical stepping stone for restoring "civic pride" and "American identity" among young people.
"I think it is a problem that young people don't vote enough in this country," Ramaswamy said. "But if you make it something that you actually have to earn, you value it even more. It's human nature and psychology."
Ramaswamy's proposal is the only of its kind in the 2024 Republican presidential field and would face extraordinary odds of becoming a reality. A constitutional amendment requires significant support in both chambers of Congress, as well as across three-fourths of states.
His campaign called the requirements "appropriately high," and argued that the proposal would spur "a long overdue conversation in America about what it means to be a citizen and how to foster civic pride in the next generation."
Nicole Nau, a 39-year-old administrative assistant from De Soto, said she "didn't necessarily disagree with" the spirit of the proposal and thought it was important that voters put in work. But she was hesitant about a seven-year increase.
"Do I think 25 might be a little high? Yes," Nau said. "But then again, you know, you learn a lot of things from 18 to 25."
Clayton Cohoon, a 21-year-old Altoona resident, said he had discovered Ramaswamy in part because of a podcast the candidate recorded with the psychologist and commentator Jordan Peterson. But he was wary of raising the voting age.
"If the clock's not broken, don't fix it," he said.
Ramaswamy's announcement of the policy comes during his latest swing through Iowa, as the author and entrepreneur aims to drive up his name recognition alongside frequent media appearances.
The Thursday event was designed by county Republican leaders to attract and engage young Republican voters; Gov. Kim Reynolds introduced Ramaswamy and spoke briefly to the crowd.
He unleashed a barrage of policy proposals and priorities in his remarks, calling for more than 90% of jobs in the Federal Reserve to be eliminated and pledging to end affirmative action.
He said he would pardon those who had been targeted by "politicized prosecutions," including former President Donald Trump and "peaceful Jan. 6 protesters" at the U.S. Capitol riot. And he pledged to use the force of the military against Mexican drug cartels, as well as curb a national debt that he called "financial fentanyl."
Ramaswamy has frequently decried what he calls "woke" culture and beliefs on the campaign trail, pointing to "cults" focused on race, gender and climate that have fueled a "national identity crisis."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vivek Ramaswamy wants to raise the voting age to 25, he tells Iowans