Providing voters information has been a central purpose of the League of Women Voters since its founding almost 100 years ago. Once women won the right to vote, it became clear that voter education for both women and men was a major need and an obvious next step.
The League goes to a great deal of effort to develop questions of interest to voters with the goal of informing our fellow citizens about the views of candidates. Our volunteer members also spend a great deal of time tracking down the responses from candidates. Because our questions are relevant and of interest to voters — and because we try very hard to get all candidates to respond — the League has an excellent reputation for voter education. The League’s Voter Guide is a well-recognized and respected guide to understanding the candidates and the critical issues.
Answering a questionnaire, and a short one at that, is a quick and easy way for candidates to tell the public where they stand.
Voters want to be informed, and many use our guide to get that information, but the desire for easy-to-understand, nonpartisan information is thwarted when a candidate chooses not to respond. This year, many candidates, including some top-ballot races, chose not to participate in the League of Women Voters Guide questionnaire.
Candidates have been asked three times to respond to the questionnaire, which asks for their positions on the issues facing the state. The questionnaires are always available to them online, yet many have ignored this step that makes our system of democracy work.
When I think of the low response rate, I think: Candidates are running to represent us, to act in our names. It means something to be called a public servant. It is to us the voters that elected officials must be accountable, responsive, and transparent. Answering a questionnaire, a short one at that, is the most basic means of telling voters where they, the candidates, stand on critical issues.
The result of this choice not to provide information means that voters risk being less informed when it comes time to cast their ballots. It’s still not too late for candidates to respond.
Take a look at the Voter Guide. This year, we partnered with The Colorado Independent so you can conveniently find it here. Thousands of people have done so already. If you find a race in the guide in which the candidates failed to respond, please take a moment to contact their campaign offices and ask them to do so.
You’re doing your part to be an informed voter, shouldn’t they do theirs?
The Colorado Independent occasionally runs guest posts from government officials, local experts and concerned citizens on a variety of topics. These posts are meant to provide diverse perspectives and do not represent the views of The Independent. To pitch a guest post, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our submission page.