The League of Women Voters has done important work for more than 100 years, starting in 1920, when women finally were given the right to vote.
Their most important advocacy work comes from helping people engage in informed participation in our democracy. That was the case then; that is the case now.
Some readers will dismiss those first two paragraphs immediately because the LWV has taken stances that lean left on health care reform, the environment and immigration, to name three topics.
The Herald is working with the League because it has the difficult task of facilitating candidates communicating with a polarized electorate, and its mission is so important to a functioning democracy. Whatever label you want to pin on the League, its work in providing questionnaires for candidates to answer – in their own words – is informative and lets voters know where candidates stand on key issues.
Those questionnaires sit at one of the few places to get as neutral a platform as possible, www.vote411.org, which the League sets up and maintains. The convenience for readers is that they can plug in their address and read where the candidates on their ballots stand on various issues in a side-by-side fashion.
From that information, The Herald will publish in print the League of Women Voters guide on Oct. 20, four days before voter registration for the Nov. 8 election closes. The League, notes in its own words, “All … responses come directly from the candidates and are unedited by LWV. The League does not support or oppose any candidates or parties.”
Bucks County voters have 48 candidates on the statewide and local level from which to choose, all of whom have been contacted by the League to answer this election’s questionnaire. It seems candidates understand the pull Vote411 has; 39 (81 percent) have responded with varying degrees of specificity, with just less than two months to go.
We won’t call out the nine but they should be warned that voters take these guides seriously.
Many people look at those voter guides and decide who the best candidate is from what they read. If a candidate doesn’t take the modest amount of time to answer questions in a place that is convenient for voters to study for their whole ballot, it’s certainly understandable for voters to go with the candidate who answered or ignore the candidate who did not answer. Many readers find that as a sign of respect for their timeidate excuses for not participating.
The LWV also has reached out to candidates to facilitate forums, though that has been a tall order to this point. The League will continue to offer to help with in-person and video forums. I suspect that will be a tougher task, given the “gotcha” environment that exists. No one wants to see a 10-second video clip go viral. Frankly, it’s an unfortunate but understandabt a place of civility where one could be forgiven easily.
All that said, we hope voters will take seriously efforts to inform themselves and vote. Some upcoming dates to keep in mind (from the state’s website http://www.vote.pa.gov/):
However you view the world right now, it’s important to participate. Your vote will count.
Shane Fitzgerald is Editor-in-Chief of the Bucks County Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.