Commentary

Voter guide frequently asked questions

It’s the most wonderful time of every other year: election time! May 12 is Primary Election Day in Nebraska. However, due to the coronavirus, for many people, voting will be a stay-at-home activity done by mail-in ballot.

Regardless of how you intend to vote, the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) is here to help with a voter guide, found at www.NebraskaCatholicVoter.com and reprinted in large part on pages 8 and 9 of this issue of the Catholic Voice.

In mid-April our voter guide went live on the web. After publishing it, we received a variety of questions about its purpose and scope. To help everyone understand it better, I want to offer answers to several frequently asked questions.

All in all, we hope this resource helps you get a better grasp on where candidates say they stand on a variety of issues. We also hope you will take time to share this resource with family, friends and fellow parishioners, among others.

What is the purpose of the Nebraska Catholic Voter Guide? The Nebraska Catholic Voter Guide is intended as an information-gathering resource for voters across the state of Nebraska, to help them become better educated on the policy positions of those running for public office.

The NCC invited all state legislative and federal legislative candidates on the upcoming ballot to answer a survey indicating their support or opposition on a variety of important public policy issues currently facing our state and nation. We also gave them the opportunity to offer a special message to you, the Catholic voter.

Is the Nebraska Catholic Voter Guide an endorsement of any candidates? No. Federal law prohibits a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization from endorsing or opposing any candidate, political party or political action committee. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the NCC is not associated with any political party and does not endorse or oppose any candidate, political party or political action committee.

Is the Nebraska Catholic Voter Guide intended to compare candidates with public policy positions of the Catholic Church? No. Federal law prohibits a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization from supporting or opposing a candidate, and comparing a candidate’s public policy positions to those of the Catholic Church could be seen as support or opposition with respect to those candidates.

The information that has been gathered in the Nebraska Catholic Voter Guide is intended to be an educational resource for voters to have a better understanding of candidates who are running for public office.

Are the symbols used to identify a candidate’s position intended to signify whether a question has been “correctly” or “incorrectly” answered? No. The symbols are shorthand for either support for or opposition to the specific public policy issue being presented to the candidates.

It is incumbent on the voter to read and understand the question being asked and make ultimate determinations about how the responses inform their decisions. See the answer to the previous question for more explanation.

What if I have further questions for the candidates? As always, to be an active and educated voter, you are free to contact candidates who are running for public office.

What if I am not registered to vote? Visit the Nebraska secretary of state’s Voter Registration Portal at www.nebraska.gov/apps-sos-voter-registration/ for more information and instructions on how to register as a voter. Notably, the deadlines for online and in-person voter registration can be found at sos.nebraska.gov/elections/registering-vote.

What if I want to vote early by mail? You can find more information at the Nebraska secretary of state’s 2020 Elections information page at sos.nebraska.gov/elections/2020-elections.

Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at tvenzor@necatholic.org.