By L.A. Williams, CAL Correspondent
Christian Action League of North Carolina
RALEIGH – It’s Nov. 4, you head to the poll, step into the voting booth and feel the weight of responsibility land squarely on your shoulders. Are you prepared to cast a ballot in all these races? How do you know where all the candidates stand on the issues?
The North Carolina Family Policy Council (NCFPC) can help you prepare now with its free 2008 Voter Guide, a nonpartisan, impartial look at the platforms of hundreds of candidates running for office in North Carolina.
“Often we find that voters are frustrated because, although they hear a lot about the issues that the candidates want to speak out about, sometimes the issues that families and voters really care about are not discussed very publicly by the candidates,” said John Rustin, the NCFPC’s vice president and director of government relations. He said the Council had a series of meetings to formulate and scrutinize the voter guide questions, and came out with three separate sets of inquiries for federal offices, state judicial seats and other state offices, with each set targeting areas that would relate to the candidate’s sphere of influence should he or she be elected.
The NCFPC surveyed more than 480 candidates during this year’s election season, including the primaries. The 16-page voter guide includes responses from 372 candidates to questions on topics including abortion, the definition of marriage, gambling, educational choice, public prayer, embryonic stem cell research and more.
Included are candidates running for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Auditor, Agriculture Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner, Labor Commissioner, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Treasurer, N.C. Supreme Court, N.C. Court of Appeals, N.C. Superior Court, N.C. Senate and N.C. House.
In addition to the printed guides, some 500,000 of which will be shipped to interested churches and civic groups throughout the state, the NCFPC will offer an online voter guide that will include even more information.
“We asked candidates to answer their survey questions with Yes, No, or Undecided, but we also encouraged them, if they did not feel one of those choices fully expressed their view, to provide additional comments,” Rustin said. “All of their questionnaires will be on the Web site, so folks can see their responses and the explanations they wrote regarding their positions.”
Rustin stressed that the guides do not promote one candidate over another and fall well within the guidelines of voter educational materials that can be distributed freely by churches or other organizations.
“There continues to be a false impression that churches are very limited as to what they can do during a political season,” Rustin said. “Obviously, a pastor cannot get in the pulpit and endorse a candidate by name on the church’s behalf, but distributing voter guides is very much within the realm of what they can do.”
A 501(c)3 organization, the North Carolina Family Policy Council has taken pains to make sure its voter guide, the third it has produced since 2004, is fair and non-partisan.
“We would never want to risk endangering our own tax-exempt status and would certainly not want to harm a church in such a process,” Rustin said. He said the information in the guides is only what has been provided to the Council directly from the candidates.
“It’s the voters’ responsibility to digest that information and use it however they deem appropriate,” he said.
Copies of the voter guide are free and can be ordered in bundles of 100 for shipments to go out beginning Oct. 6. Anyone on the Family Policy Council’s mailing list will receive a guide automatically. Church or civic organizations can make their requests by calling (919) 807-0800 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are taking orders now and have had a great deal of interest. This is a very important election year,” Rustin said. “We encourage folks to order as soon as possible.”
Again, there is no fee for the guides. Contributions to the NCFPC to offset printing and shipping costs are appreciated, but not required.
Also on October 6, the voters’ guide will be posted on the Family Policy Council’s web site at www.ncfamily.org
“The Christian Action League highly recommends the distribution of the voter guides prepared by the North Carolina Family Policy Council,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, the League’s executive director. “Their voters’ guide is the best that I have seen anywhere.”
For details on the NCFPC, go to www.ncfamily.org