Even if you are an unusually well-informed voter, the enormous size, scope, and complexity of modern government ensure that there will be many issues and candidates about which you know very little….
It’s unrealistic to expect that everyone will achieve a high level of knowledge about every race and every initiative. But if you find that you know little or nothing about a particular race or ballot question, you might want to consider simply not voting on it. As political philosopher Jason Brennan argues
, voters have a moral duty to be at least reasonably well-informed about the issues they vote on, because the decisions they make affect not just themselves but all of society. John Stuart Mill
put it well when he wrote that voting is not just an exercise of personal choice, but rather “the exercise of power over others.” If you can’t exercise that power in at least a minimally responsible manner, maybe you should not do so at all.
It would be dangerous to give government the power to forcibly exclude ignorant voters from the franchise. Incumbent political leaders could too easily abuse it to exclude their political opponents or to target unpopular minorities. But there is no such danger if a voter voluntarily chooses not to vote in a particular race because he or she decides they don’t have enough knowledge to vote responsibly.
[Note: I have updated some of the links in this excerpt].