AAUW Voter Guides: A Trusted Messenger

November 01, 2012

The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.

“Sometimes I wonder if we shall ever grow up in our politics and say definite things which mean something or whether we shall always go on using generalities to which everyone can subscribe and which mean very little.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

We hope you have been following the AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign to educate voters about the importance of this election for American women and families. Of course, the most important thing we can do this Tuesday is VOTE.

As a trusted messenger to more than 150,000 members and supporters, AAUW provides voter education materials that cut through partisan hyperbole and media spin. We focus instead on whether the candidates have publicly stated their support for issues that align with AAUW’s member-adopted Public Policy Program, including pay equity, earned sick leave, college affordability, access to birth control, and more. We’ve provided voter guides in one way or another since 1994. More people are seeing them now due to our increased commitment to getting out the vote, and we couldn’t be more excited!

Our VoteHER Toolkit is the result of scrupulous research of the public statements of candidates running for president and many of the candidates running for Senate and House seats. These voter guides, sponsored by the AAUW Action Fund, provide the type of nonpartisan voter information that many feel is missing from the media and in some cases from the campaigns themselves.

Candidates’ positions on the issues were determined using candidates’ voting records, public statements, campaign position papers, and information posted on the Internet from trusted sources. Campaigns were contacted via telephone and e-mail to make sure they had the opportunity to respond before we published the guides. If campaigns respond after the deadline, or if we receive new information, we revise the guides online to reflect the new positions. AAUW makes it clear in print on each of the guides, which are provided as a public service, that we do not make endorsements of any candidate or political party. No endorsement or AAUW policy position is implied by the descriptions of these issues.

Here are the standards we used in assessing candidates’ positions:

  • Support — The candidate has co-sponsored or voted for this legislation or has explicitly stated support on the record with no ambiguity.
  • Oppose — The candidate voted against legislation or has explicitly stated opposition on the record with no ambiguity.
  • Unknown — There’s been no explicit or compelling public position taken by the candidate.
  • Mixed — The candidate has given conflicting statements on the issue or has taken a nuanced position.

Candidates for public office have one goal: to win. They know the women’s vote is critical to their path to victory. But here at AAUW, we also expect them to govern once they win. We will hold these candidates to their public statements on the stump. That’s why AAUW members have organized hundreds of voter education and candidate forums throughout the country to pin down these candidates on our issues.

We are frankly baffled by candidates who continue to be ambiguous about how they will govern on issues that are so critical to the health and economic security of women. For example, an “unknown” or “mixed” position isn’t for lack of research but for lack of a candidate taking a clear stand on an AAUW priority issue. We don’t see an “unknown” ranking as a failure of research. If a candidate’s position on one of AAUW’s priority issues is unknown, people need to know that. Asking a candidate where she or he stands on these issues would be a great question for a forum or in a letter to the editor. Not taking a position on an issue indicates a candidate doesn’t see it as a priority. We’re here to make sure they do.

The It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign is nonpartisan, and it does not tell people how to vote. Instead, we want to give everyone information about candidates’ stances on priority issues. It’s our hope that these guides will spur voters to ask candidates about their stances on these issues and to encourage public conversation.

Beth Scott By:   |   November 01, 2012

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