Yes, it’s a long ballot. Need a guide to get you through?

Photo by Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Every election season, women and men volunteers in local Leagues of Women Voters across Texas register voters, hold candidate forums and produce the Voters Guide to help inform Texans about candidates.

Voters across Texas trust the League of Women Voters to provide nonpartisan voter education. We are an all-volunteer organization that has built that reputation over a long time, going on 99 years. The League of Women Voters never supports or opposes candidates for office or political parties. We never have and never will.

The Voters Guide lists candidates in contested races who are on the election ballot and who provide answers to League questions. We edit out references to opponents, and also limit the length of answers because, well, we are asking politicians and you know how some of them tend to go on and on.

Not everybody takes part. Some candidates sometimes don’t show up at local forums or provide answers to be shared freely in our Voters Guide for all Texas voters to read in the comfort of their homes. Perhaps some candidates prefer to only talk with their party or to big donors. I don’t blame them, who wouldn’t love to chat with supporters and hang out with folks who want to give you all that money?

In a democracy, however, candidates should pay attention to ALL voters. Candidates running for public office are applying for a job. Debates are job interviews. The Voters Guide is a resume. Candidate forums are interviews. Texas voters are doing the hiring. Who would hire an employee without interviewing them first? Not this Texan.

Voters in our democracy expect candidates to participate in voter education activities. This is a democracy, for goodness sake. Voters are more likely to vote when they know who the candidates are and where they stand on the issues. Alas, Texas is about last in voter participation. Or, we have been. I expect that to change with our latest record-breaking voter registration rate and the huge numbers of Texans who voted early this year! Texas is moving on up!

The League’s mission is empowering voters and defending democracy. We are dedicated Texas volunteers trying to make voting easy and convenient. We work hard to fulfill our mission. One Facebook commenter thanked us for providing the online Voters Guide at VOTE411.org. They had been googling all the candidates’ campaign sites trying to compare candidates when they found us. Finally, they were able to easily compare candidates and print out their selection to take to the polls if you’re voting on Election Day.

P.S. Did you know there is very little money in providing nonpartisan voter education? So, I’m just saying, think about making a donation.

P.P.S. The nonpartisan Voters Guide can be found in hundreds of local libraries scattered around Texas, on VOTE411.org, on your local League websites. or at LWVTexas.org.

Grace Chimene

President, League of Women Voters of Texas

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