Voter guide production is easy with thorough, timely preparation. One or more persons, using this step-by-step guide, can produce a voter guide for any local school board or city council race. The goal is to produce an accurate and informative tool for church members to use at election time.
The following are job descriptions for each task necessary to produce the voter guide. One person may fill all five positions or ideally, one person will be assigned to each position.
The Voter Guide Committee positions are:
· Questionnaire Committee/Person
· Correspondence Committee/Person
★ DIRECTOR – Responsible for overall production of the local voter guide
The Director will:
· Review the Production Checklist before the first meeting
· Recruit volunteers to be on a Voter Guide Committee
· Remind the committee of meetings, prepare the meeting agenda, and determine the tasks to be completed
· Communicate with church leadership as necessary
· Collaborate with the entire Voter Guide Committee to determine a Production Timeline using the County Registrar of Voters (ROV) calendar
· Collaborate with the entire committee to determine the elected office(s) on which you will concentrate your voter guide production effort. The County ROV lists offices up for election each year.
· Ascertain the candidate names and contact information for questionnaire mailing:
1. Use the County Registrar of Voters (ROV) website to find a list of candidates and their contact information. Be sure to include every candidate in the voter guide.
2. Call the Registrar’s office for updated information as needed.
3. Use other sources to obtain contact information not available from the ROV.
· Candidate Websites
· Local office of the office for which the candidate is running
· Online news sources
· Monitor the status of the candidate questionnaire letter, its mailing, its return, and the names of candidates who have chosen not to participate
· Collect and file returned original signed candidate questionnaire letters. Important: Save all original written correspondence and email from candidates.
★ SECRETARY – Documents committee meetings and assists Director
The Secretary will:
· Monitor dates on the Production Timeline
· Monitor progress of committee member assignments
· Assist the Director with obtaining candidate contact information
· Proofread and verify all information
· Take notes during meetings
★ QUESTIONNAIRE COMMITTEE (PERSON) – Compose a list of questions for the candidates to answer. You may want the entire voter guide team to collaborate on this in lieu of having a separate committee.
The Questionnaire Committee/Person will:
· Write a list of questions to ask of candidates in targeted races. If there is more than one elected office targeted, the list of questions may differ. However, some important questions may remain the same on all questionnaires. More than one meeting may be necessary to accomplish this task.
· Provide the completed list of candidate questions to the Director for final approval. This may be done early in the process and set aside while waiting for the end of the candidate filing period.
Note: Organizations should include issues that are important to them in the voter guide. It is essential that a voter guide include a broad range of issues and that the issues be described neutrally.
Tip: Be sure to proofread!
★ CORRESPONDENCE COMMITTEE (OR PERSON) – Prepares questionnaire letters to mail to candidates and verifies a candidate’s receipt of questionnaire letter using a sample script.
The Correspondence Committee/Person will:
· Prepare the list of candidate questions and the questionnaire letter for printing. When ready, print the letters using church-supplied letterhead or professional weight paper and envelopes.
· Include a “return-by” date on the questionnaire letter.
· Provide a self-addressed and stamped return envelope for candidates to use when returning the questionnaire. The church address should be used as the return address. It should be sent “Attention” to the Voter Guide Director.
· Consider sending the questionnaire as a certified letter in order to ensure each candidate receives the letter. If cost is a factor, simply mail the first copy of the questionnaire and send a certified letter only to the candidates who do not respond to the initial questionnaire.
· Phone each candidate to confirm receipt of the questionnaire.
★ PUBLISHER – Prepares and prints the voter guide for distribution.
The Publisher will:
· Set up and print the voter guide. Microsoft Word is used to create the voter guide template and is available for download at realimpact.us.
Be sure to include each of the following in the voter guide:
Candidate names -The Director will give the Publisher the names of all eligible candidates once the County ROV’s filing deadline has passed. Multiple candidate names can fit onto one page. If there is a large number of candidates and one page is not enough, a two-sided or a legal size page may be needed.
Questions posed to the candidates - When the Questionnaire Committee has finalized the list of candidate questions, they should be given to the Director who will then approve them and give them to the Publisher. The Publisher will insert the questions into the blank voter guide template. This can be done early in the process and set aside while waiting for the candidates’ responses to the questionnaire.
The candidates’ responses to the questionnaire -The Director will give the Questionnaire Committee the candidates’ responses to the questions after the questionnaires are returned. The Publisher can then fill in the voter guide template with the candidates’ answers. The Publisher should be sure to place the questions on the voter guide in the same order they were asked in the candidate questionnaire letter.
For example, if the first question on the questionnaire is “1. Do you support parental
notification laws for unemancipated minor girls seeking an abortion?” the same
question must also be the #1 question on the voter guide form.
This voter guide format does not allow candidates to make statements. Only three
answer options are allowed, “Support,” “Oppose,” or “Did Not Answer.” If a
candidate does not mark any one of the three possible answers, mark the box with
“DNA,” meaning “Did Not Answer the question.”
If a candidate chooses not to participate and does not return the questionnaire,
every box must be marked with “NR” ("Questionnaire not returned") on the voter
guide. Do not write “No response” as a candidate may claim that a written
statement, email, or any other form correspondence is a "response."
4. The voter guide header/graphic - If a graphic is not available, use text.
Tip: Proofreading is essential!