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September 29, 2016 12:00 pm
Traci Griggs, NC Family Director of Communications interviews NC Family President John L. Rustin about the vital importance of this year’s election, the NC Family voter guide, and what listeners can do to help.
We want to make sure that every voter in the state is well-equipped and well-informed when they go into the voting booth to vote for those candidates that represent their values with family Pres. John Rustin joining us this family policy matters.
We have a treat for you today. I am Tracy great's director of communications for the North Carolina family policy Council the pleasure of interviewing the man you are accustomed to having as your host for family policy matters John Rustin, president of NC family today were going to be talking with John about one of NC families biggest and most impressive projects 2016 voter guide across the state.
North Carolina voters count on this election resource to provide important impartial and unfiltered information about where the candidates stand on a wide range of issues such as education, marriage, gambling, abortion, taxation and religious freedom. John, welcome to the guest seat on family policy matters.
Thanks, Tracy, it's great to be with you John, you and the North Carolina family team have been producing a general election voter guide for many years now. Tell us how this project got started and why NC family continues to put the enormous time and effort and resources into it, election after election or should we think about it is a very important resource to provide to voters?
Your lawn and we started producing the voter God into the 2000 election we had been hearing more and more mail from voters and particularly conservative Christian voters across the state that they were having a very difficult time getting information are relevant and important information to them on issues that they really care about with respect to where the candidate stood on those issues that will running for elected office in North Carolina and so we set out to produce a voter God for the general election to help voters across North Carolina understand where the candidates stood or stand on these issues and also to provide the candidates an opportunity to share this information with the voters and based on the list of issues and topics that we cover in the voter God.
Often these are not issues that you can go to a candidates website to get to learn where they stand on the issue and sometimes because some of these issues are considered somewhat controversial.
You don't always hear about them, even in debates and so we thought it was important again to provide a forum so candidates can share information about their stances on these important issues to the public eye and so the public, the voters can understand better where the candidates stand on the issue. So when they go into the voting booth there well-informed and can make an informed decision. So tell us a little bit more about what voters can expect out of the 2016 voter guide for the 2016 voter God is chock-full of information about the candidates we survey all the candidates that are running for the United States Senate U.S. House governor, Lieut. Gov., Council estate, state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals in the entire state legislature which is up for reelection.
So that is a total of about 340 candidates that are included in the 2016 voter God and we ask them a series of questions now. We asked congressional candidates a series of questions that are more relevant to issues that they will face is there serving in federal office and we asked the governor or candidates for Gov. Lieut. Gov. Council estate in the state legislature. A separate set of questions that are relevant to their jurisdiction as state elected officials and then we asked state judicial candidates an entirely separate set of questions to try to get a sense of where they stand with respect to their judicial philosophy which member of the US Supreme Court today. Most believe represents their philosophy. Those types of things and so we tried to tailor those questionnaires to the offices that the candidates are seeking but also to make sure that the questions that we ask are timely, relevant and of interest to the audience that will be using these across the state to ensure that every candidate was treated equally and had an opportunity to participate in that photo. That survey will that's a great question and something that we take very seriously. Now that the family policy councils voter God is nonpartisan and we really bent over backwards to make sure that all the candidates, regardless of party. And regardless of the office that they're seeking are treated the same because we wanted to be objective. We not only want to provide unbiased information to the voters. But we also want candidates to feel very comfortable in responding to those questionnaires and to be insured that their responses are not going to be used as some kind of a gotcha or misrepresented, which does happen in some cases, unfortunately, so we send out the questionnaires to all the candidates and then we do a series of follow-ups by phone, email, and otherwise to make sure that all of those candidates have as much of an opportunity to participate in the voter God is possible, the response rate that we get on our voter God compared to voter guides in many other states.
We have a relatively high response rate and I think one of the reasons for that is that we ask very straightforward questions. We also invite candidates to provide additional comments or explanations for their responses. So, if the yes no undecided response options that we have don't necessarily allow them to fully express their position on the issues and we give them the invitation to provide additional comments and responses to those questions so that they feel that their positions are fully represented and then we go the extra step of scanning all of those candidate questionnaires in and posting those on the general election website so the voters can go and open up those scanned questionnaires and see the candidates responses in their own handwriting and so we think that makes for a very fair and very impartial process of encouraging the candidates to share important information with the voters and providing voters with reliable and again unbiased information about the candidates you're listening to policy matters so I spent to listen to our radio show online and from what resources that will be a place of persuasion in your community to our website only.org general hearing so much about our national elections, especially the presidential race.
But there are so many important state-level races in this year of all years how North Carolina votes on state-level races could have an impact nationally. So tell us a little bit about why it's important for people to get out and vote sure North Carolina use to exist and what I refer to as relative political anonymity. We were a historically a democratic state that was moderate typically elected Democrat leaders, with some exceptions, but for the most part, 440 years since Reconstruction. We were pretty much a reliable democratic state well in 2008 and 2010. That all changed and of course now we have a Republican governor leaving North Carolina as well as super majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.
We are considered to be one of the most competitive states. We are a top battleground state and national election.
So that's why we see the presidential candidates spending a lot of time in North Carolina and races like the race for U.S. Senate in congressional races as well as the governor's race being extremely extremely tight.
We are a very, very, very competitive purple state and so we have really important races.
In addition to the presidential race of U.S. Senate race. The gubernatorial race that is going to be probably the most competitive and expensive gubernatorial race in the country and lead the entire state legislature is up for reelection as well and that the general assembly has done more in the last six years to promote family friendly issues. Pro-life legislation, religious liberty, legislation, education, choice and education a lot of variety of really profamily issues and a lot of that could change if the elections go in one direction those types of things could be bolstered if the elections go in another direction and soak at the North a lot of family policy Council, we do not endorse candidates, but we work within the political arena and understand very much the impact that those political decisions have on the policy issues that were working on. So this is an incredibly incredibly important election. I will just say with a focus on one particular arena, which is religious liberty that is Maggie Gallagher who was of a nationally renowned expert on marriage and family issues said recently in a national review article as North Carolina goes with respect to the governor's race.
So goes the future of religious liberty legislation in our nation. All eyes are on our governor's race and the. The notion is and this is not meant as an endorsement of a candidate, but if Gov. Pat McCrory does not win reelection. The national media is going to chalk that up to his support and defense of House Bill to North Carolina's common sense bathroom privacy and safety Bill of course there's been a lot made about that legislation in the media and with groups like the NCAA in the ACC recently coming out in opposition to it and moving championship games out of the state that all is in play in this, but the national media will chalk it up to his support and defense. If Gov. Cory loses the election if he wins, on the other hand then political leaders across the country will see you can stand up for what's right and what's true and survive politically and so there's a tremendous amount in the religious liberty arena riding on the outcome of the gubernatorial race in North Carolina NC family communicates to all North Carolinians.
Much of the time that our radio show has a very unique niche in that we can speak directly to a lot of Christians through their local Christian radio station. So what would you say to Christians who are listening to this about why it's important for them, particularly to get out and vote and to encourage people in their churches and their community to vote as well will I really believe we have a privilege but also a right and responsibility to vote and this is the basis of the Republic that we live in is that that the citizens get out and act on their right to vote elected officials that represent their values and their opinions and then hold those elected officials accountable while they're in office and so it is a critical part of our form of government that we are fortunate to live in in the United States that every citizen that is of a voting agent has a the right to vote exercises that write a significant part of exercising that right is educating yourself and being knowledgeable when you go into the voting booth to complete that ballot to elect the officials that represent us and that's why the voter got project to such a critically important part of what we do as a research and education organization.
We want to make sure that every voter in the state is well-equipped and well-informed when they go into the voting booth to vote for those candidates that represent their values. Okay, John, so how do voters get a copy of the 2016 voter guide. The easiest thing is to go to the North China family policy Council email@example.com and it will be very obvious on the website how they can gain access to the voter God they can download the entire 24 page voter God if they want to do that but they can also type in their name and address and the website will populate a personalized voter God for them. That includes all of the candidates that are running for statewide offices but also just those candidates that are running in their congressional and state legislative district so they won't have to filter through a bunch of candidates that they don't have the opportunity to vote for. So it's a very user-friendly website and process. We will not only encourage interested people to get a photograph of themselves, but we also as a public service to the citizens of the state provide voter guide for distribution across North Carolina, primarily through churches, but through civic groups and other organizations so you can actually own the NC family website and NC family.org you can order voter guides in bulk for distribution at your church, your civic group your neighborhood and even walk around your neighborhood and handout voter guides to your neighbors to make sure they have the information that they need to make informed decisions as well John were nearly out of time for this week lunch tell us one more time where people can go to get their copy of the voter guide and to order copies if they want to distribute those in their church or their neighborhoods. Thank you Tracy again easiest ways to go to our website it NC family.org again that since he family.org they will see prominent notices of how they can gain access to the voter got there.
If there on the NC family mailing list. They may have already received a voter God in the mail but they can contact us also by phone at 919-807-0800. Again, that's not 19 807-0800 and just give us their name and address and will be happy to send them a voter God. It's our goal to get a voter guides and the hands of as many voters across the state. As we can and were delighted to be able to provide this resource free of charge is a service to the citizens of North Carolina, John Reston, thank you so much for switching seats on family policy matters this week and for your untiring and inspiring leadership at the North Carolina family policy Council. Thank you Tracy. It's been a pleasure talking family policy matters. Production of NC family to listen to our radio show online, and for more valuable resources and information about issues important to families in North Carolina go to my firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook