Over the last few months, the League of Women Voters – Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Area has been organizing debates for the contested races in the upcoming Consolidated Election on April 4. For the March 12th set of debates, a few candidates have expressed concern over the League’s ability to host a debate impartially.
All over the country at every level of government, League of Women Voters chapters have been hosting candidate debates since shortly after its founding in 1920. The League of Women Voters (LWV) aims to inform people about the issues at stake in elections — to open lines of communication between the electorate and candidates for public office. The League sponsored the Presidential debates until 1988 when it withdrew due to campaign organizations’ machinations. LWV President stated that the League had “no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.” Over the years, the League has established debate guidelines to ensure that the public is best served.
The Vice President of Voter Services organizes the debates, which are overseen by the President. League rules dictate that neither person supports or endorses a candidate or party for an election. The League is nonpartisan, and does not support any other organization.
League moderators receive training to handle, in a professional and impartial manner, a variety of situations. Moderators are required to be from outside the voting district so they are unbiased in the election.
For marketing purposes, the League may request attendees to sign in, but never asks for identification. This would result in unnecessary congestion and frustration. Additionally, requiring an ID would violate a person’s expectation of privacy and act as a type of voter suppression.
Per the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), video of a debate cannot be edited and must be shown in its entirety. At the League’s request, Lake Forest Television and Video Production (LFTV) provides the videotaping services. LFTV does superimpose identification of the candidate or the race at their discretion. The video can be seen in its entirety on the League’s website www.LWV-LFLB.org , on the City of Lake Forest YouTube channel “Enjoy Lake Forest”, and on the public access channels 17 & 19. Rarely, LFTV may experience technical difficulties resulting in an incomplete video. Candidates must sign a contract stating their campaigns will not use an excerpt of the debate for campaign purposes.
The League reserves the right to ask anyone responsible for disturbances to leave the premises. Additionally, to preserve a nonpartisan atmosphere during the debate, no campaign paraphernalia will be allowed inside the auditorium. People entering the auditorium will be asked to remove any pin, hats, t-shirts, etc. before entering.
With the above safeguards, the League is confident that all candidates will benefit from presenting their views at the debates and looks forward to full participation. Should a candidate choose not to participate, he or she will miss an excellent opportunity to reach a large audience. The debates will go on with or without the candidate. The League encourages all residents to attend and learn about the candidates in preparation for voting in the April 4 Consolidated Election.
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