I’ve suggested in jest that people ought to have a comprehension test before they’re allowed to vote but Anti Dismal has found some academic support for the contention that if you can’t vote intelligently you shouldn’t vote at all.
Brown University philosopher Jason Brennan has written a paper entitled: Polluting the Polls: When Citizens Shouldn’t Vote.
Just because one has the right to vote does not mean just any vote is right. Citizens should not vote badly. This duty to avoid voting badly is grounded in a general duty not to engage in collectively harmful activities when the personal cost of restraint is low. Good governance is a public good. Bad governance is a public bad. We should not be contributing to public bads when the benefit to ourselves is low. Many democratic theorists agree that we shouldn’t vote badly, but that’s because they think we should vote well. This demands too much of citizens.
People should be public-spirited, and act with the common good in mind. When enough people vote badly–from ignorance or bias, for example–the result is often bad policy. The quality of policy matters to the public good. Higher-quality democratic decisions, and better policy, can be secured if bad voters choose to abstain. Because the personal cost of not voting badly is so low, a public-spirited person shouldn’t do it. And it seems that a lot of people are quite likely to vote badly. So there are many people who, if they care about the common good, ought to choose not to vote.
That would be one way to get rid of New Zealand First’s support.
However, I can see a couple of difficulties with this proposition: if you’re too ignorant to vote you’re probably too ignorant to realise it; and what one person regards as voting in ignorance may well be regarded as voting intelligently by another.