Ever since he entered the presidential race in February, Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has made a hard play for MAGA voters, an effort on full display in his debate performance last Wednesday. And yet, according to his voting records, the biotech multimillionaire is listed as an “unaffiliated” voter in Franklin County, Ohio, where he’s been registered to vote since moving to Columbus in 2021.
Ramaswamy’s public voting history shows that he skipped half of the elections held since then, including two primary elections in 2022 and one this year. He did vote in favor of a Republican-backed ballot measure that would have made Ohio’s state constitution more difficult to amend, a move widely seen as an attempt to undercut an abortion rights measure on the ballot in 2024.
In a major victory for abortion rights, the ballot measure was resoundingly defeated earlier this month. Ramaswamy also voted in the 2021 and 2022 general elections.
This isn’t the first time Ramaswamy’s voting record has complicated his “hardcore” MAGA appearance. In digital interviews in June and July, Ramaswamy asserted that his first vote for president was for Donald Trump in 2020. Throughout the campaign, he chalked up his apathy to a lack of enthusiasm about the candidates on offer. In an August interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Ramaswamy said he was a “jaded person” in his 20s.
But late in July, when The Washington Examiner confronted Ramaswamy with voting records showing he first cast a vote in 2004, his campaign initially said he could not remember who he voted for, before admitting he voted for Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik. During that campaign, Badnarik ran on a strong pro-choice platform, and supported ending “immigration restrictions for peaceful individuals who come to America to work, study and live.”
Notably, Badnarik also flirted with 9/11 conspiracism. In a blog post commemorating the 10th anniversary of the attacks, he wrote, “We should assiduously follow the evidence until we uncover the cold, unvarnished truth, even if we discover that certain members of our own government were [knowledgeable], or even complicit in planning the attack.”
In a wide-ranging profile in The Atlantic last week, Ramaswamy was quoted as claiming it is “legitimate to say how many police, how many federal agents, were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers.” “It probably is zero for all I know, right?” he added. “I have no reason to think it was anything other than zero.”
Ramaswamy currently sits in third place in FiveThirtyEight’s average of GOP primary polls. His numbers have more than doubled since early July when he was sitting at around 4%.
The second GOP debate will be held on September 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California.