In October 2006, LWVUS launched VOTE411.org as a one-stop shop website offering information on the election process. It’s virtual, nonpartisan and available in both English and Spanish. Specifically, VOTE411.org provides personalized voting information: races and candidates on your ballot, proposals on your ballot, your voting location/polling precinct, and the closest drop box for absentee ballots. VOTE411.org will tell you if you are a registered voter and provide up-to-date registration timelines for online, postmarked mail, and in-person voter registration. There’s even a checklist for first-time voters. It’s all geared to your mailing address.
The election process can be confusing even for those who’ve voted before. Election rules differ from state to state and can change between elections. VOTE411.org provides personalized information, so you’re prepared to vote in every election. Whether local, state, or federal, every election is vital to ensuring our laws and policies reflect the values and beliefs of our communities.
Like the structure of the League, there are national, state, and local components regarding the information provided on VOTE411.org. The national does the heavy lifting by maintaining the website, adding the proper links, and creating the software that allows state and local leagues to add information germane to their polling locales. LWVUS handles information concerning national races (i.e., the presidential election), whereas LWVMI addresses candidates running for statewide office and statewide proposals. At the local level, the Detroit League manages candidates and proposals for our municipalities (Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park) and Wayne County offices (e.g., Wayne County Executive and Wayne County Sheriff).
The VOTE411 system invites all candidates running for a particular office to answer a brief questionnaire concerning their qualifications, why they are running, what they believe are the priority issues for that office, and actions they would take to address those issues if elected. The candidates’ VOTE411 answers are posted unedited.
As a nonpartisan organization, the League of Women Voters endorses neither candidates nor political parties. This disclaimer is posted on the VOTE411 website and on materials the League sends to candidates inviting them to participate in the VOTE411 process.
As committee chair, I’ve shared the duties and local management of VOTE411.org with LWVD Director-At-Large, Deborah Bunkley, for the last six years. This year’s coordination was particularly challenging as LWVUS changed the VOTE411 website structure. That, along with the redistricting in Detroit, created a huge learning curve even after all these years. We shanghaied our webmaster, Sara Weertz, to help during the learning phase.
We routinely update VOTE411.org to reflect the annual elections in Detroit, Hamtramck, or Highland Park. Anyone wishing to join the VOTE411 committee should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Slattery, LWVD VOTE411 Committee Chair
Watch our VOTE411 video for more information.