As a leader of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Arkansas, Nell Matthews doesn't endorse candidates. Period. So when her brother asked her recently for recommendations, she directed him instead to a website: Vote411.org.
Started by the League of Women Voters Education Fund in October 2006, Vote411 offers information about candidates in Texas, where her sibling lives, as well as the Natural State.
Arkansas has participated in the project since 2016.
"It's a great help for people," said Matthews, the League's "state convener" (though she's still sometimes referred to by the old title -- president.)
At Vote411, Arkansans will find the candidates for federal office as well as the state Legislature. Information about ballot measures also is posted.
In Pulaski and Faulkner counties, municipal candidates were given the opportunity to weigh in as well.
Office seekers were invited to post their photographs and were encouraged to complete short questionnaires as well.
The responses come "directly from the candidates and are unedited," the website notes.
The site also provides voter registration details and links to other relevant information.
"This is a great place to do your one-stop shop to look at candidates," Matthews said. "We want to give people the tools to be able to make informed decisions."
Carol Young, the state chapter's treasurer and a former Pulaski County convener, emphasized the website's convenience.
"It's a place to go see what the candidates stand for without having to go to their individual web pages or campaign office. It's all there in one spot," she said.
It isn't always easy to get candidates to answer questions and submit photos, Matthews said.
It's a simple way, she said, to connect with voters.
Nationwide, more than 5 million voters accessed the website during the 2018 campaign, national League officials say.
They expect to surpass that number in 2020, a year that marks the organization's centennial.
Founded by members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the League was established six months before ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
Full membership was made available to men in the 1970s.
Today, the League "encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy," its website states.
The League's education fund "works to register voters, provide voters with election information through voter guides as well as candidate forums and debates."
In 1980 and 1984, the League even sponsored the nation's presidential debates.
Vote411 is now one of the League's signature efforts.
Matthews credits Young with the website's success in the Little Rock area.
"She's been the heart and soul of it in Pulaski County," Matthews said.
While the basic Vote411 elements are now available statewide, Matthews hopes more counties will eventually have the type of expanded options enjoyed by residents of Pulaski and Faulkner counties.
"Vote411 is trying to be the online voter guide for the people of Arkansas," Matthews said. "Our goal is to get more and more of the down-ballot races on there."
Print Headline: League site is Arkansas voters' 1-stop guide