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Online voter guide website prepares

MARQUETTE — Brushing up on candidates and ballot proposals is highly recommended with the upcoming Aug. 4 primary election and now there is a website that helps prepare voters for elections.

The League of Women Voters of Marquette County is urging voters to prepare for election season by visiting VOTE411.org, a nonpartisan informational website that the national League of Women Voters launched in 2006.

The site allows voters to enter their addresses and find election information based on the specific items that will be on the ballot in that area, League of Women Voters of Marquette County President Darlene Allen said.

There’s a large group of volunteers who help make this online voting guide a reality, Allen said, explaining that much of the work requires reaching out to all the candidates and providing them with the opportunity to answer a set of questions that will be included on the website.

This feature allows voters to be informed, understand what is on their ballot and know more information about their candidates, Allen noted.

“This voting guide, now, is so critical because with the COVID-19, we’re not as able to connect with one another as much as usual so candidates are very likely going to be going out door-to-door, letting them know what their positions are, what they’re thinking about. There’s less rallies being held so people have less opportunity to get that information and so this guide really will provide them with a way to find out about a candidate that they might not be otherwise able to do,” she said.

This online voting guide is important locally, but also at a state and national level because it is accessible to anyone in the nation, Allen said.

“I think it’s fairly simple. You go in and it requests your street address, city, state and zip code. That information is not tracked or used in any way as far as reaching out to people for solicitation or anything like that. So that’s important for people to know. That information basically just takes you to your particular ballot,” Allen said. “… It gives you a chance to look at some of the details of individuals and how they answer questions.”

The relationships between the League of Women Voters of Marquette County and local municipal clerks are key, Allen said.

“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our clerks about our voter guides –whether they be online or printed — and then also our candidate forums. So knowing and being informed about the proposals that are coming up, who’s on the ballot, what their positions are really makes voting more meaningful. And it makes the voting process go much more smoothly because people go in there prepared and aware and they’re not just looking down the list trying to figure out what name sounds right,” Allen noted. “… So it’s a really good way to find out that information.”

Usually, the League of Women Voters of Marquette County does outreach at festivals, parades and large events to get the word out on the importance of voting. But this year with the pandemic, those opportunities have been curtailed.

However, the organization hopes to continue educating the public on voter participation and encourage all to become informed voters by using the voter guide website, social media posts and other election-related media, Allen said.

The website is also available in Spanish and the state league will also issue a print voter guide in September, she said.

This year, the league is also making sure people are aware of the absentee ballot option due to the pandemic. Furthermore, absentee ballots give voters the opportunity to make more calculated decisions because they have more time to fill out the ballot and do research, Allen said.

For more information, visit VOTE411.org.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.

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