When people do vote, and to be fair most people who are in my age group do not vote enough, they are usually faced with a ballot with many different candidates (most that they have never heard of if they didn’t do their research).
I will ALWAYs tell a person to research their candidates. The internet is a great tool to look up information about candidates and to see who is running for office. Your state’s election website should also give you AT LEAST a list of candidates for you to Google.
We all need to remember that down-ballot races matter more in our day to day life than Federal Elections. We feel local taxes or new rules that our school board imposes faster than new Federal legislation. Googling these candidates, looking at their public social media can give you some ideas about the person and what he or she may believe.
But at the end of the day, most people won’t do that and they will pick either the most interesting name or the name that is on the top of the party affiliation that he or she chooses for the federal election. When I worked for a congressional campaign in Illinois I remember the campaign manager complaining how cold it was when he filed for our candidate, because whichever candidate was listed at the top would be first on the ballot for that particular race.
Other voters are issue-oriented, such as me. Issue-oriented voters will look up each candidates position on their particular issue and vote for the candidate that checks the majority of the boxes that he or she agrees with. This has some benefits and some negatives. The benefits are that you can explain why you voted for an individual with a clear reasoned answer (hopefully), the negative is that you may be voting for someone who is on the losing side of history.
The most common group are people who will vote party line no matter what. It doesn’t matter who the candidate is, as long as she or she has the correct letter next to their name, then they are getting the vote of this person.
However you vote, I just hope you do vote. While as a person who cares about politics, I hope that all voters are informed. I know that is not always the case. I still what everyone to vote, because the active choice of filling out your ballot and mailing it in or going to your polling place shows that you care for our country and you care what happens to it.