The League of Women Voters of Illinois Education Fund has decided to leave Libertarian candidate Kash Jackson out of the ABC gubernatorial debates on Oct. 3rd. Their decision is based on the premise that candidates must poll at 10% in order to be included in this debate.
As stated on their website: “The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy.” Kash Jackson will be on the ballot in November. How can voters make an informed decision on whom they vote for if the League decides to leave out valid candidates in debates? The League prides itself on being a nonpartisan organization that is effective in voter education and promoting civic engagement. What better way to have this mission manifested than in a debate where all candidates have the floor and voters have a chance to hear from every candidate. Yet the League chose to include only two gubernatorial candidates: that is, “the winners.”
The 10% figure that a candidate must poll is dubious. According to the League’s Candidate Participation Policy (updated May 2017), there is no polling percentage requirement. In fact, their policy states that in order for a third party candidate to be considered in debates, “… candidate must show evidence that a formal campaign is being waged. The existence of a public website, campaign office, campaign staff, campaign appearances, position papers, and fundraising are examples.” Kash Jackson meets all of these requirements. Therefore, the decision to exclude Kash Jackson is a snub to third party candidates. Placing the 10% polling requirements on candidates is unfair and arbitrary. Furthermore, this is only a nod of support to the two main parties who have the funds to conduct such polls.
Additionally, the League has developed its own organizational policy of diversity in which they affirm that they are “actively seeking to be inclusive”. Yet in a hypocritical gesture, this policy does not extend to being all inclusive with providing all valid candidates the chance to participate in a debate. Additional points taken from their diversity policy state that “[t]he LWVIL recognizes that diverse perspectives are necessary for responsible and effective decision making in democratic organizations.” If the League is genuine about the rhetoric in its own policy, they would promote an all-inclusive approach to their debates and encourage voices from all sides.
The League of Women Voters had done tremendous and important work. They work hard to promote voting, voter education, voter registration. How disappointing that this organization that works to educate women to be informed voters, would thus deny them a chance to hear from all candidates at the gubernatorial debate in the very same city in which it was founded in 1920. The League is doing a disservice to their members and to the voters of Illinois by upholding their discretionary decision of excluding candidate based on polling numbers. We urge the League to live up to its mission and to include Kash Jackson in the ABC Gubernatorial Debates on Oct. 3rd.
Candidate is available for print, radio/audio, and television/video interviews regarding this story.
The Kash Jackson for Governor’s campaign is asking for voters to contact the league and politely ask that Kash Jackson be included.
League of Women Voters
332 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60604