“The United States faces a 25% recruitment deficit in the military and just 16% of Gen Z say they’re proud to be American. 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.”
– Vivek Ramaswamy
Voting is more than a physical act. It is the expression of a duty we bear as citizens. Serving your nation, knowing something about your nation, or at least living in your nation for a short time as an adult isn’t too much to ask. Our lost civic pride won’t reappear automatically. Reviving it will require boldness.
01 Civic Duty Voting
Vivek supports a constitutional amendment to implement Civic Duty Voting amongst Americans aged 18-25.
In substance, this amendment will increase the standard voting age to 25, while still allowing all Americans to vote at age 18 if they meet a national service requirement (at least 6 months in the military or a first responder role) or else pass the same civics test required of naturalized citizens.
Voting will remain open to citizens starting from the age of 18 who are US and have demonstrated civic information in at least one of several ways:
– Direct service to the country in the military or first response services (police, fire, etc).
– Passed a civic test identical to the U.S. citizenship exam for naturalized citizens.
– Reached the age of 25.
02 Increasing Young Voter Turnout
Critics will note that voter participation amongst young Americans is already problematically low. They are correct: only 23% of Americans ages 18-25 choose to vote today.
There is good reason to believe that the minority of young Americans who choose to vote would already be able to meet the criteria of Civic Duty Voting anyway, and by making the ability to vote at a young age a coveted privilege, voter participation amongst young Americans may actually increase.
This isn’t a foreign concept. Take the IKEA effect, psychologists have found people put greater value in things that they have to work for or invest in.
03 Civic Duty Voting Promotes Civic Equality
The civics exam required of young Americans would be the identical one we already ask law-abiding green card holders to pass: it’s no more discriminatory to an 18-year-old born in this country than to someone who has been a decade-long taxpayer in the country but who can’t vote either.
The test is not a requirement either: the performance of minimal service to the country offers an alternative path. And all requirements fall away at age 25 anyway – the same age by which young male adults are required under current law to complete Selective Service registration.
Civic Duty Voting has the potential to restore civic equality that many Americans long for: a kid of a billionaire can’t vote if he misses the requirement, while the kid of a single mother in the inner city can still be part of the special group that determines who governs our nation.
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.
04 Implementation of Civic Duty Voting, Not Building More Bureaucracy
The Civic Duty Voting exam would be identical to one required of law-abiding green card holders prior to obtaining citizenship. The 6-month service requirement offers an alternative to the Civic Duty Voting exam. Both requirements fall away at age 25 – the same age by which young male adults are required under current U.S. law to complete Selective Service registration.
Civic Duty Voting will use the existing apparatus: military, first responders, and the same civics test we use for naturalized citizenship exams.
– Streamlining the managerial machine is another reason to implement Civic Duty Voting rather than opt for mandatory national service like Israel, South Korea, Singapore, and other nations.
– No additional government bureaucracy is required to administer Civic Duty Voting.
05 Historic Precedent for Civic Duty Voting in America
Tying civic duties to the privileges of citizenship is more familiar to Americans than it may first seem. The voting age was only lowered to age 18 in 1971 – justified by the military draft starting at age 18 during the Vietnam War.
The requirement to serve in the military was the central argument for why 18-year-olds were granted the right to vote at all. And even today every adult male in America is legally required to register with Selective Service after turning 18 before age 25.
The Constitution expressly prohibits discrimination on attributes like race and gender, but the Constitution does not expressly guarantee universal voting either. This is intentional: we live in a Constitutional republic, not a direct democracy.
The Fourteenth Amendment specifically distinguishes the immunities of citizenship from the privileges of citizenship. Voting is a privilege, and civic duty is a proper precondition for enjoying that privilege.
Other democratic nations including Israel and South Korea mandate national service, but that is not the American way: we cannot solve the absence of a desire to serve our country – or to learn about the Constitution – by forcing them to do so.
By restoring civic duty through tying it to the ultimate privilege of citizenship and conferring it to young people accordingly, we have a better chance of accomplishing the same goal – and without a new bureaucracy that would be inevitably required to administer a mandatory national service requirement.
06 Constitutional Amendment to Implement Civic Duty Voting
Civic Duty Voting can only ever be implemented through Constitutional Amendment which requires the assent of two-thirds of legislators in both Chambers of Congress and three-fourths of state legislators.
The high hurdle is a good thing: the process of debating the merits of a proposed Amendment will itself catalyze a long overdue conversation about not only reviving civic pride amongst young Americans, but what it even means to be a citizen today.
Constitutional amendments are proposed in two ways:
– Via Congress – ⅔ of legislators in both houses approve the amendment.
– Via the states – Congress calls a convention if the legislatures of ⅔ of the states apply for it (Never used till this point)
To ratify an amendment:
– Must be approved by ¾ of the states, either by the legislatures or conventions 27 of 33 amendments have been approved.
– 27 of 33 amendments have been approved.