Two Republicans in local contested races have not responded to a voter website launched by the League of Women Voters
The New York State League of Women Voters has launched a website to help voters. The site, www.vote411.org, includes candidates’ biographical information and responses to questions posed by the League, as well as links to candidates’ social media and campaign websites.
A customized format lets you compare candidate information and print a customized sample ballot — you can also view candidate information for races statewide and find out about registration, absentee ballots and more. In the coming weeks, Vote411 will add information on upcoming candidate forums in the countdown to Nov. 8.
What was noticeably missing from the new site on Monday for area voters was information from state Senate candidate Pam Helming and congressional incumbent Tom Reed.
Helming is running in the three-way race for the 54th District seat on the state Senate. Voters in the 54th — which includes portions of six counties, including Ontario and Wayne — could read about Democratic candidate Kenan Baldridge and Reform candidate Floyd Rayburn based on those candidates’ responses and stands on key issues. Helming's spot was blank.
“Candidates who have not yet submitted their information are listed with ‘Candidate Has Not Responded,’ according to the League, a nonpartisan organization. “Their responses will be posted as soon as the candidates provide the information.”
Regarding candidate responses, the League posts on the site: “All statements and videos are posted directly by the candidate, unedited by the League of Women Voters and do not express the views of the League. The League never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.”
Calls and email attempts to reach Helming Monday by the Daily Messenger and her campaign were not answered. Helming, the Canandaigua town supervisor, is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines in the 54th, having won the Republican primary.
In another contested race for voters in Ontario and surrounding counties, the 23rd Congressional race, incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, had also not responded to the League for Voter411. Reed was asked about it during a campaign conference call Monday. He said he wasn’t familiar with Vote411 and he would have to check with his campaign to see if it something he will do.
Baldridge and Rayburn, who participated in a Geneva League of Women Voters candidates forum last week in which Helming did not — Helming’s campaign said she had a longstanding family engagement — commented about the importance of VOTE 411 and other avenues to reach voters.
“If you want a popular democracy, this is how it happens,” said Baldridge. “The people have the right to know what you think before they cast their vote.
“I’d be concerned if a candidate did not respond in this way. I’d wonder who they are representing,” Baldridge added.
Rayburn said he also takes it seriously. “Transparency is huge,” he said. “Anytime I can get in front of the voters, the people in our district, I do. In the Senate, you will be debating for your constituents and you have to be able to do that.”
Rayburn said he has conducted his campaign to be accessible to the media and the voters. “That is what people should expect of their senator,” he said. “The way a candidate runs their campaign reflects on how they will be in the Senate."
About the League
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political membership organization, open to men and women, that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government. It also works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. To learn more about the League or to link to Vote411, visit www.lwvny.org.