The ability to vote and choose our leaders has laid the foundation for our democracy since 1776. But not everybody has been allowed to cast a vote. We have seen, however, legal and illegal roadblocks throughout our history. Our Constitution has been amended three times to expand voter eligibility:
The 14th Amendment (1868) was passed shortly after the Civil War. Among other things it granted citizenship to former slaves and since only citizens can vote it granted voter eligibility to former male slaves.
The 19th Amendment (1920) allowed women to vote.
The 26th Amendment (1971) lowered the minimum age for voting to 18.
With the 2024 election just 18 months away we already have a candidate who wants to restrict voting. Republican Vivek Ramaswamy has proposed a change. Under his plan the voting age would be raised to 25 with exceptions for emergency responders, anyone who served at least six months in the military, or anyone who passes the naturalization exam.
This is purely a political move, a way to attract attention. Since it will need a Constitutional amendment it’s unlikely to go anywhere but it got him some publicity.
But it does point to a troubling trend. If it were to pass it would be the first time we shrank eligibility and made voting more exclusive. It’s also no coincidence that Republicans don’t poll well among young people but they do poll well among members of the military.
I predict that this will not be the last Republican attempt to disenfranchise voters they don’t like. Instead of appealing to them it’s easier to get rid of them.