BY REBECCA SHANKLAND
League of Women Voters of Los Alamos
Now that the New Mexico primary is over, the League of Women Voters of Los Alamos would like to thank the many candidates who ran. Using Zoom for candidate forums and publishing our first Voter Guide for a primary election gave citizens an opportunity to meet the candidates, albeit indirectly. We would like to explain our policies for inviting candidates to participate in these public information venues.
It has always been our policy to include only CANDIDATES WITH OPPOSITION in our primary forums, since candidates without opposition will automatically continue on to the general election. The reason for this policy is that our limited resources are stretched thin by the large number of candidates running in the primaries.
In contrast, for the forums leading up to the general election, we invite all candidates to participate. Those who are unopposed are invited to introduce themselves. Those with opposition introduce themselves and answer questions from the audience.
A similar policy is in effect for our Voter Guide. We do include names and photos of all candidates, but we show responses to questions only for those with opposition. This year, for the primary and general elections, the LWVNM is producing a state-wide Voter Guide, using a national League platform called Vote 411. The protocol for that publication calls for questions to be solicited from all candidates and all answers to be published.
All of these forums and guides are available to the public on our website, LWVlosalamos.org.
Our local Voter Guide is compiled by a team of League members under the leadership of Lynn Jones, our Voter Guide editor. They must develop questions that will be of interest to the public, confirm the election information and candidate lists, acquire candidate photos, and compile answers from the candidates.
In her board report, Lynn described the procedure for interactions with candidates: “Candidates were sent an invitation letter about two weeks before the print edition needed the data; those candidates who hadn’t responded (the vast majority) were sent a reminder letter about one week later, followed by a telephone call a few days later still. Then, the opposed candidates were called a second time and finally received a personal reminder email on the last day. If you are ever a candidate, please respond promptly!”
This time- and energy-consuming procedure is one reason that we omit the unopposed candidates. Meanwhile, our Voter Guide and candidate forum volunteers are resting up before the general election in November!