Pike's League of Women Voters explains voter guide and debate policy
Submission deadline to be included in the guide for the spring primary is April 30
MILFORD — With candidates permitted as of Tuesday to start circulating petitions, the League of Women Voters of Pike County has fielded many questions about its planned Online Voter Guide, and its policies on candidate forums and debates.
The League has provided the following explainer:
Candidate forumsThe League expects requests to hold candidate forums but is bound by legal mandates and restrictions addressing fairness. These policies prohibit empty chair debates and forums, and require inclusion of non-major party candidates, as long as they have filed their paperwork on time and were given access to the ballot.
Because of the length of these policies, the full list is available at the top of its home page at lwvpike.org.
League president Liz Forrest explains other limitations.
"There was some confusion about our policies in 2017," she said. "Unfortunately, we are restricted by lack of resources and geography. In 2017, we had around 100 people at the Pike County Library to meet candidates from all over the county, but the majority of the attendees were candidates themselves and their campaign helpers. It was worthwhile for exposure to the press, but not much opportunity for someone from the western part of the county to meet the voters personally."
Because of limited resources, requests for candidate forums will be prioritized as follows:
Spring primary cross-filed races — e.g., school board and judicial positions — are often decided by the major party primaries in the spring. Since these are non-partisan positions, the League is well suited to provide such forums. If there is still competition for limited slots in the fall, or independent candidates file for them in August, the League will consider holding a second forum.
County row offices in the fall — The League does not expect to hold candidate forums for the party primaries in May, believing it is the county parties' responsibility to educate their registered voters about the merits of their candidates and provide venues where the candidates can meet voters. Once the general election ballots are set for the major parties by the primary, and independent voters have had a chance to gain access to the ballot, the League will announce a date and send invitations.
Individual township and borough offices — If candidates reach out to the League in the fall, it will try to accommodate them. Volunteer resources are, however, limited.
Pike County Voter GuideThe League of Women Voters of Pike County publishes a free voter guide, published online and on social media, containing candidate names, campaign contact information, positions, and qualifications. Although it is relatively easy to reach out to state legislature candidates, it is more difficult to reach all candidates running locally. The candidate contact forms are also available for download from the home page (lwvpike.org) and include information about submissions. Candidates can also ask to have the form emailed directly to them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The information is provided strictly by the candidate, with no editing," Forrest said. "The only restriction is no attacks on other candidates. Voters want to know who you are, why you are running, and what you plan to do. The Pike County Voter Guide is a free and easy way for local candidates to reach out to their voters."
The deadline to submit completed forms for the spring primary is April 30.
The League of Women Voters never endorses any political candidates or parties. It is a non-partisan organization comprised of volunteers who work to help voters make informed decisions by making information available.
The League of Women Voters of Pike County is part of the LWV US organization, which was founded to advocate for women's right to vote. While the name remains in homage to its founders, male members have become an important part of LWV.
Those interested in becoming members may visit lwvpike.org.
For more information on activities and future meetings at the local level, send an email to LWVPikeCounty@gmail.com.