League of Women Voters

Vote411: Which candidates are helping voters educate themselves


Have you ever stared at the section of a ballot, for county and city elected officials, only to think, “I don’t know if I can vote for them. I don’t know anything about them!”

Voting season is back — primary style — so it’s time again to face the old conundrum.

Time to start spotting your “Vote! It counts!” lawn signs. If you possess such signage, plant it like a flag on your lawn, because April 9 marked the kickoff for early voting.

Wow, can you tell if any of the 10 candidates running, especially the ones with their own lawn signage, are worth your vote? Carpe computatrum, which means seize your computer, and access Vote411.org to learn about the candidates for the 10 primaries.

The League of Women Voters, which is a nonpartisan voter education organization, created Vote411.org to help citizens educate themselves. There’s a catch. While our local League invited all of our candidates to answer the same questions so you can compare their responses, not all have completed this brief task. But more on this in a moment. Right now, you’d probably appreciate a quick walk-through of the site (though it is very user-friendly!).

When you arrive on the site, you’ll be prompted for your address. Enter your zip or specific address. It will prompt to you enter your prefered language. For the primary, you can choose “all parties,” if you want to see who is running in both parties. The caveat is that Indiana voting law requires that you declare your party and you’ll only get a ballot for that party.

Now, people do show up at the polls wondering how to vote straight ticket in a primary. Take note, the “straight ticket” button will not be an option because it is already a “straight ticket” ballot. This is the segment of electing candidates that allows any of the Republicans to take on other Republicans or any Democrats to take on other Democrats. It’s time to narrow the slate to one candidate per party per office. This is the scrimmage part of voting, in sports language.

Once you select your address, you’ll be shown the races in which you can vote. Then you can read about each contender if they have done their part to help you get to know them. As you read, you can designate which candidate you’d like to vote for. You can print your ballot selections to take to the polling booth. In April and May, the primaries are mostly local, except for U.S. president, and the state-wide races for governor and senate. This is why VOTE411.org matters and why the League of Women Voters would like all candidates to participate.

This year you can vote in races for Clerk of Circuit Court, County Commissioner, County Coroner, County Council At-Large, County Recorder, County Surveyor, Indiana Governor, Indiana’s U.S. Senate and U.S. House District 4, at least. If you click on “view race,” you’ll see the picture and responses of any candidate whose staff have posted. You’ll have to click “view answers.”

Here who has and who has not participated at the time of press.

In county races, here are the candidates who’ve posted: One of the two Republicans running for Clerk has. Thank you, Leah Craft Denbo. The solo county commissioner for District 3, Dan Guard, has yet to respond. The candidate for county coroner, Steve Gressmire has posted. Of the four Republicans running for county council, two of four have posted responses ­— thank you, David Hunt and Mike Warren. In this race, you can choose up to three candidates. Neither Republican Nancy Cox nor Shari Lovold have answered questions like “What specific experiences and skills qualify you to be a county recorder?” along with inquiries into goals, objectives, most important issues, greatest concerns of Montgomery County, and what they want voters to know before casting a ballot. Tom Cummins, the single candidate for county surveyor, has yet to help out voters.

For the state office of governor, there are six Republicans, Curtis Hill (answered), Eric Doden (answered), Jamie Reitenour (answered), Mike Braun (not answered), Brad Chambers (not answered), and Suzanne Crouch (not answered). The single Democrat, Jennifer McCormick, former state secretary of education, has also provided extensive information.

In the senate race, both Democrats, Valerie McCray and Marc Carmichael, have answered, while incumbent Jim Banks has not yet responded. Finally, of the U.S. House District Four candidates ­— there are four Republicans and two Democrats. Charles Bookwalter (R), Rimpi Girn (D), Derrick Holder (D) have answers. John Piper (R), Trent Lester (R) and Jim Baird (R) still need to help out voters.

Some years back, a friend asked, “How do I make an informed decision about local races?” People want a way to know their ballot matters. They earnestly desire to be informed of their votes and if they can’t do so in a way that works with their lives, they tend to skip voting. Please, candidates, we call on you to honor your community.

Finally, Early voting opened on April 9 and continues through May 6, with election day being May 7. For those who’d like to go to the courthouse, they can cast their vote on the first floor from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, or 9 a.m. to noon May 6. Rock Point Church will also host early voting 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 27 and May 4 or 2-7 p.m. May 1-3.


The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan, multi-issue organization encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join the LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For information, visit the website www.lwvmontcoin.org or the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, IN Facebook page.