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Get ready. It's one of America's most important, influential, and respected voices on cultural and political issues. An apologist, Christian political advocate, and author, here is the founder and chairman of the Citizens for America Foundation, Dr. Chris Hughes. Well, hello and welcome to Christian Perspective. I'm Chris Hughes, and I've got an exciting guest today.
And I'm going to tell you more about her in just a minute. But before we do that, I want to be sure that we thank our sponsors, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, for being the host to the studios of the Christian Perspective Radio Show, right here in Memphis, Tennessee. If you are looking for a great Christian college, or even a master's or doctorate degree program, I want to encourage you to check out Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Their undergraduate school is called the College of Mid-America, and they have a great, not just a great educational program, but your kids or you will learn an environment that loves the Lord and teaches you how to develop a biblical perspective and a biblical worldview that you can carry with you throughout life for the rest of your life. Maybe you've already gone to college and you want to get a master's or a PhD, but you've never thought about going to a seminary. Don't let the word seminary scare you. It's just a school where you can get a graduate degree. And again, you're going to get a great, great education. They have a new program which will help you understand what you believe and why you believe it in the Bible. It's called an apologetics degree, and I hope you'll take a look at it. Visit mabts.edu.
That's mabts.edu to learn more. I also want to thank the Citizens for America Foundation. At the Citizens for America Foundation, we work every day to educate and train Christians to develop a biblical worldview and take that biblical worldview into the arena of public policy and politics. And my guest today is someone that you're going to want to really follow as you are developing that biblical worldview and then understanding how to apply that in the political arena and how to find Christian and godly candidates that are running for public office. My guest today is Debbie Westnow. Debbie is the president of iVoterGuide. Now, you might recall a couple of months ago, we did another show with Rob Chambers from the American Family Association Action Division, where we talked about iVoterGuide, and I recently met Debbie at a national meeting and wanted her to come on and tell us more about iVoterGuide.
We're right now in the midst of, we've just come through a series of primary elections, and this is what we call midterm election, which is two years before presidential election. It's going to be so important for our country right now, and as Christians, we need to understand the issues. We need to know the candidates, but we don't always have time to do that, and that's why iVoterGuide is so important. Debbie Westnow is a president of iVoterGuide and was looking at your bio, Debbie. It's neat because I see that you got your master's degree from Princeton University, which is a great, great school and beautiful, one of my favorite campuses in the country.
When we were touring with my kids, I just loved the Princeton campus. It's a beautiful place, and since you've been with iVoterGuide in 2011, you now have reached over three and a half million users on iVoterGuide, and you have information on over 8,000 candidates. Debbie, thank you for joining us on The Christian Perspective today. Chris, thanks for having me. It's a pleasure.
Well, hey, before we get into all the work stuff, I want to hit a few personal things with you. When I was reading up about you, I saw that you're a musician, not your typical instrument, that you play the bells, is that right? I do. I've played handbells since 1990, and I've been in a variety of different handbell choirs, just the regular one at my church, and then I joined a ladies quartet, and we kind of worked up gigs, and we're playing at Bible studies and Kiwanis meetings and things like that, and then I joined an invitation-only community choir that was at a Methodist church, and we actually performed at the Pinnacle Handbell Conference, and we're the closing concert, so I love Worshiping God Through Music, and handbells is part of it. So people, if you're listening and you're not familiar with handbells, they literally, what they sound like, they are bells, and you hold them with your hand, and you ring them, and you can play beautiful music, and so based, it's just like other instruments, based on the smaller instruments, the smaller bells or a higher pitch, and then on up through the larger bells are more like a bass or a baritone, so I've not thought about this for years, Debbie, but I used, when I was in college, a friend of mine went to, and it seems to be usually Methodist churches that have bells, a friend of mine was a Methodist, I'm a Southern Baptist, and she invited me to come to their church, and I would go there and play their handbell choir, and it's such a neat instrument, it's an underappreciated instrument, but the music is really, really beautiful, and I know that's not what you came here to talk about today, but I was so excited. No, but I love talking handbells, and I will, there's a spiritual connection to handbells, because, I mean, like if you ever played piano, you've got all those keys on your instrument, well imagine in handbells, every person only plays two notes in the keyboard, but you're trying to produce this melodious, contiguous music, so it's really an image of the body of Christ, because everybody does their little part, but when it works together, it's a beautiful illustration of God's body, so it's a fabulous ministry, you make friends, I encourage it if you have an opportunity, and I play in a Baptist church, so my husband grew up Baptist, I grew up in a Methodist church, and the handbells, when we search for a church, he said I want Baptist, I said I want handbells, so that's how we found our church. And you were able to find a Baptist church that had handbells, so that's great. I did.
That's pretty rare today. Well, I'm sorry to get off on that, but I was excited, I haven't ever had anybody on the show that I know of that played handbells before, so I'm glad that you do that. Well, Debbie, I want to ask, as I shared with you before you came on the show, I always love to have our guests share their testimony, because you never know who's listening, and we all need to learn how to tell others about Jesus, and sometimes we might think, well, my testimony is not as powerful as somebody else's, and I don't want to share it, but we all have a testimony, and when we share it, God will send the people to us who need to hear the story of what God did in our lives. So if you don't mind, can you share with our listeners first, why don't you share a little bit about, other than handbells, you know, kind of your family and who you are, and then maybe tell us how you came to know Jesus. Well, I grew up in Missouri, in southwest Missouri, in Springfield, and was a Christian family. We actually went to a Methodist church, but if the weather was really nice, it was more important to go to the lake, so church was a part of my growing up, but it wasn't the priority, and I had a father who had grown up very poor, and the way that he provided for his family and showed us love was by working all the time, so he was very rarely there, also kind of coming from a German stock, very stoic, not very emotional and relatable, so I basically was well cared for, but didn't feel loved. Nobody ever said, I love you, that kind of thing growing up, and when I was 16 years old, I was a member of the speech and debate team at my high school, and came home after I'd won my first speech trophy, and my father sat me down and said, your mother has brain cancer. She's going to have surgery tomorrow, and it rocked my world, that my mom might not live very long, and I've got this dad who doesn't relate to me, and we're sharing that with my debate partner at public school, and she was active in a Baptist church, was in their church youth ministry, and sent me home with, I still picture the yellow legal pad that had scriptures on it.
She says, you should go home and read these, and I read through several of them, and it may be cliche, but John 3 16, that God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever, you know, would accept him would have salvation, and to me, it was the the willing draw of a father's love, that I prayed that prayer, said God, I need you, I need that love, I need that hope, and then my speech coach in my speech front was actually a part-time youth minister at a Baptist church, so I went to the revival evening, and walked the aisle, and did that, you know, standard Baptist thing that I wasn't familiar with growing up as a Methodist, but then went back to my Methodist church, but I had that hope, and that that light at the end of the tunnel, and then, you know, there's always elements of your life, kind of went to college, and as many did, kind of went astray just a bit, and got my degree in computer science from the University of Missouri, Rolla, and took a job in New Jersey with AT&T Bell Laboratories, felt like God was directing me there, without really knowing that it was God directing me, but I can look in, you know, behind me at the footsteps, and see it was his guidance, that's where I met my husband, was in New Jersey, then we moved back to get to Missouri, get out of New Jersey, because I felt like God's highest calling is to be a stay-at-home mom, and you can't do that, it was difficult to do that in New Jersey, so we went back to St. Louis, which is really close to my family, and I, as soon as I had my first daughter in 1991, I quit, I went to stay home and raise my kids, got really active in Bible studies, spent the next 20 years really discipling myself, and training, raising my kids, discipling my children, and when that daughter started college, actually my first Bible study that I ever did, which is, it laid the foundation, was Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God, and I learned through that, that God speaks to us, not just through the Bible, not just through the Holy Spirit, but through prayer, through circumstances, and other individuals, so I really became a, I would watch for God to be at work, which is what he teaches God, where is God at work, join him in that work, and that God will guide and direct you through open doors or closed doors, so when my daughter started college, I knew God had a plan for me, he's ordained all the works that he's planned for me in advance before one of them came to be, and that he wants me to step out into them, and I knew that I'm one of those doer people, I'm not a sit along the side, I'm that 20% in the church that does 80% of the work, so I wanted to know, I asked God, what do you want me to do with my empty nest, because, you know, it'd be nice to help pay for college, I know you've got these works planned, and I asked my community Bible study teaching director to be a job reference, she had been, I'd known her for 15 years as I was on the leadership team, and she knew my background in computer science, I thought there's no way God could use a 20 year old computer science degree, she comes back a week later and says, my husband programs this online voter guide, he's been complaining at the dinner table that he needs some technical help, are you interested, and that's how God directed me into his family, and to I voter guide, what a neat story. So I was wondering how you got into the world from being a stay at home mom, and entered into the arena of public policy and politics, but you did it using your computer science background. So were you a programmer in the beginning for much of what is done on I voter guide now, I was never a programmer, I was a systems engineer. So I designed internet protocols, actually, before there was an internet, so communication protocols.
So I'm more of the big picture. I kind of have a strategic brain, and never, never wrote code. So that's why I thought, uh, when they offered me the job, I looked at as a way to get current with my technology skills.
My degree was pre internet. So if you can imagine, it was a little bit old, but I understand how computers work, they're very logical, they only do what you tell them to do. So Jim would just teach me what to do, he'd show me how to set up a new website. And then I that would be my job, or he'd say, figure out how to do this, and I go Google it and watch a YouTube video. And then that became part of my job. So and then, like three years later, they asked me to be director of operations, because I guess that, you know, getting things done with the way I worked.
And to me, that was like being the mom during the operations, you're just making sure everything gets done in the right timeframe. But and then two years later, they asked me to be the executive director and then president. But I did learn to write code when I first came on board, because I voter guide and we'll meet want to talk about this next segment was campaign finance data. And my first job was to write the code to import campaign finance data into our database.
Oh, I didn't realize I had that. Well, folks, we're talking to Debbie West now with I voter guide.com. I want you to stick around because now we're gonna fix the jump into it. You want to know who to vote for this election year, you want a resource that will help you when you don't have time to maybe question all the candidates yourself.
I voter guide is the resource you've been looking for is the one that I recommend above all others. And when we get back, we're going to learn more about it, why it was created, and how you can use it today. Stick around be right back. This show is brought to you by generous joes, the coffee company with the Christian perspective. This is the answer that Christians and conservatives have been looking for a coffee company that gives back to causes you care about.
Order your coffee today at shop generousjoes.org and even subscribe to a subscription coffee plan and never forget the coffee you love or the causes you care about. Walk in the footsteps of Jesus and see the Bible come to life. This December, join nationally syndicated radio host and founder of the Citizens for America Foundation, Dr. Chris Hughes on a life changing trip to Israel. It's one of the world's oldest and most fascinating travel destinations. Learn the faithful from all over the world for thousands of years. Visit Jerusalem's religious quarters and explore Christianity's most treasured religious sites, like the Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Via Dolorosa. Walk with Chris through the winding alleyways of Nazareth's old city and visit ancient Bethlehem, the place of our Savior's birth. Float in the Dead Sea, visit the Sea of Galilee and the Jewish fortress of Masada. See firsthand where the events of the Bible took place. Touring Israel with Dr. Chris Hughes is a travel odyssey like no other.
Visit CitizensForAmericaFoundation.com and get ready for an unforgettable trip and memories that will last a lifetime. Do you desire to build family relationships that stand the test of time? Does creating a godly family seem like a daunting challenge?
You're not alone. I'm Connie Yaupers, author of Parenting Beyond the Rules and host of Equipped to Be. As a mother of five, I understand your struggles. For 35 years, I've been helping families just like yours build lasting relationships.
I'd like to invite you to tune in to Equipped to Be and visit ConnieYaupers.com where I share useful tips and proven strategies to help you navigate the seasons of motherhood, faith, and life with confidence and joy. History was made on today's date. Stay tuned for an American Minute with Bill Federer. D-Day, June 6, 1944. 156,000 men landed on the Normandy coast of France. It was the largest invasion force in history. General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, had issued the order, you are about to embark upon the great crusade. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well-equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
Let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking. This has been an American Minute with Bill Federer. For a free transcript, call American Minute at 1-888-USA-WORD.
Welcome back to Christian Perspective. I'm Chris Hughes. My guest today is Debbie Wolfnow.
She's with iVoterGuide. You know, I've talked about iVoterGuide a lot on the show over the last few months because we're an important election year. This midterm election is so important. I know every cycle we say, most important election of our lifetime, but goodness, look around right now. When gas has tripled in price and shelves and stores are bare, and even chicken and bread and milk and so many other things cost more than they ever did before, we're now seeing that elections matter. And we as Christians need to get educated on the issues. We need to learn who the candidates are and know where those candidates stand on the issues. And then once we get educated, we need to engage in the arena of public policy and politics. And there's no greater tool out there today.
And I've got a lot of great friends that have voter resources or different voter guides, but I'm telling you the best one, and I'm going to get in trouble with this, with my other friends from other great organizations, but the best out there is iVoterGuide. So Debbie, tell us a little bit, I know you weren't there in the creation of the company, but what inspired the creation of iVoterGuide? Well, it's a great story.
I think it's the way God weaves the tapestry. So the original founder's name was Richard Ford, and he had been involved in Texas politics for decades. Just, you know, grassroots activism. He led the very first family policy council group in Texas back in the 70s and 80s. And he had a realization as a strong Christian that he had never really voted an intelligent ballot from the top to the bottom. I mean, even though he knew most of the legislators were, you know, was working at the Capitol. And he started to research candidates. And he understood that it's more important to look at what candidates do than what they say they're going to do, because there's rhetoric and there's spin.
But yet when they get into office, they vote and the votes are really telling about what's important to them. So Richard's whole philosophy created that, how he evaluated candidates. And he did it by gathering the campaign finance data.
So looking at who have they given money to, who have they accepted money from, because that tells a lot about, you know, who has influence over them, and what's important to that candidate. He gathered their scorecards. So all legislature, legislators, if they're at the state capitol or the federal capitol, there are groups who pay attention to how they vote on various issues, whatever issues are important to that particular organization, and then they release scorecards. So Richard was gathering all these scorecards on the candidates. And he started by doing this just in his home county, which was Dallas County, Texas. And he did it from the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ticket, got all their campaign finance data, he got all their scorecards, he looked to see who had endorsed them, he sent each candidate an issue survey, a questionnaire, he gathered it all back, he put it in this, actually, he said a four inch binder. And then he gathered his some of his friends that were very politically connected. And they sat around the conference table, they each had copies of that binder, and they talked about each candidate and assigned them a grade.
And they created these grades created a PDF, it would look pretty much like all the voter guides you guys are used to seeing in churches, printed them distributed them in Dallas County. Well, God wove another. So I pictured it as a weaving. So Richard might have been the vertical thread. And then horizontally, Jim Staringer is a the other foundational founder of I voter guide. He was a retired IBM programmer. He on his own had written some Bible study called word search, I believe Bible study software. He served on his local school board. And he wanted he had this idea, I think it was from God of how to create a voter guide on the internet. And the information be on the internet, that would be the distribution tool. But Jim said, I don't know how to do a voter guide.
I don't know how to evaluate candidates. So he was talking to people. And it was actually Kelly Shackelford with First Liberty, who is a Dallas, a Texas area guy told Jim, you need to talk to Richard Ford. So Jim calls Richard, what for miracle number one, Richard answered the phone because he doesn't answer the phone if you're not in his contacts. And Jim told him his idea.
And Richard says, I remember holding up that four inch binder and saying, you mean you can put this on the internet? And Jim said, Yeah. And so that was way back in 2006 2007. And that's when my voter guide was born.
And then so in 2008 2010, they were testing out the system, Jim, you know, programmed always pro bono and built it out just in Texas. They did a five to seven of the largest counties in Texas. After the 2010 elections, they both realized with their board that Texas was doing okay, but the rest of the nation needed some help needed information so that people could identify candidates who supported biblical values and life and liberty and limited government. And at that point, they went nationwide, and didn't go as far down the ballot. So they covered federal candidates in all 50 states. So everybody in the Senate, everybody in the Congress, and then they would pick a half dozen to a dozen states where they would go down ballot in that state covered a statewide races like governor, comptroller, treasurer, and then they would cover the state senate and state house of the state legislative candidates.
And that's when I got brought on board because they were Jim was looking for some help with the technology. And as they went nationwide, they needed the campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission called the FEC. And that was my first job was understanding what that data is, figuring out what type of information I voter guided needed on that information. And what what we provide is really it's not the total amount of candidates raised or how much they've spent. But we're looking for relationships between a candidate and an organization be it somebody and you know, somebody donating to them or even who they've supported as individuals before they ran for office, because that's pretty, that's a pretty important data point of who does you know, a candidate as individuals send their money to. So I started importing campaign finance data. And I voter guide started at that point working with partners.
We started working with American Family Association action at that time as our national partner. And then things just kind of kept growing from there. Well, I've got so many questions. Go ahead with your questions before I just kind of go into a monologue.
Okay, well, there's there's so much to ask here. Well, one, I want to commend you and your founders on going down ballot. Ballot drop off is is a huge issue. So Christians, if you're listening, I want to tell you, you know, you get so excited about voting for president or governor who's running for Congress or Senate.
But but what Debbie's describing is actually a reality. All across the country, people do not vote down line for maybe district judges, or county commission, or school board. And in my opinion, Debbie, I think one of the most important positions in the country, or school board races, there are races where we can make a huge difference on a local level. But when you look at the number of people in a county, for example, that vote for president, there's a huge drop off by the time they get down to school board.
And it's really crazy. But go ahead, I'm sorry, I was gonna say we did some analysis of that and found that the average is 35 to 45% of voters who make it to the polls, and vote on their ballot will leave a race blank, they call it under votes. And that's like when you get down to the county judge or the or the school, you know, city council. And if it's a nonpartisan race, which is what happens at school board, because they don't run as a republican or democrat. So you don't really have even that to guide you as to which candidate you share values with.
It's like 50 to 60% of people will leave it blank. Need and voters need information. That's what our voter guide exists for.
And isn't that crazy? Because those are the ones I mean, their their kids go to our kids school, they go to our churches, they live in our communities, those are the ones that we really should know more about than anybody else. And yet we don't. And because we don't know about great tools like like I voter guide, and I'm so glad that you're getting involved in those lower level races too, because they're so important. And are you going now across the country all the way down to like the school board races? Are you still working in some areas to get that done?
So we are still working. So in 2020, we covered down all the federal data and state legislative down into 21 states. 2021, we understood the importance of school boards. So we did our first test of covering some off year school boards. We covered 20 school districts in Texas in 2021.
As a pilot program, very successful, the majority of more conservative candidates were victors. So we're we're growing that program in 2022. We're continuing to cover I would call it select school boards or key school boards.
And those races don't always happen in November, they happen throughout the year. So we're covering them in a cycle. And then down we're going down ballot in 35 states in 2022. So we're estimating it will be at least 12,000 candidates that we're going to evaluate. And we've already covered, oh my gosh, probably close to 50 or 75 school districts in 2022. We're going to cover some more in August elections and a bunch more in November. The goal being by 2024 that we're covering state legislative in all 50 states and continuing to go down ballot as much as resources allow. Yeah, and that's going to be so important as we look at what's happening with Roe v. Wade.
And if you know that decision is overturned, and then they go back and say that this is a state rights issue, not a US constitutional issue, those state legislative races are going to be so important for us to elect godly men and women to public office who, you know, hopefully will stand right on that decision. So So in the 2022 election cycle, then you're not going to have all the state legislative races in the country for the midterm election, just just 35 of the states, but I will throw out there that we do cover the prime the Republican primary, in addition to the November election. So we have voter guides out there right now. And there's a whole bunch of elections coming up on June the seventh. So and even more, you know, between now and September and then the general in November.
So I voter guide is the only organization I'm aware of that gives you information on the candidates running in the Republican primary, which is when the general election will cover every Ken tested candidate. Okay, we all well, let's take a quick commercial break. I'm getting excited.
My blood pressure is going up in a good way, Debbie, because I'm excited about what y'all are doing. This is so important. And it's an important tool that Christians need to have before I take the break. It's I voter guide.com, right not.org. I vote guide. That is correct.
They'll both work. But I voter guide.com is really where we live. So folks, look that up while we're talking because you might have questions. And you want to pay attention because Debbie is going to tell us a lot more about how you can use this important tool to go vote this November or even in the primaries.
If your state has not had a primary yet. Stick around, be right back with more on the Christian perspective. The United States of America has a strong Christian heritage, but most Americans don't know the truly important role that God in the Bible played in the founding of this great nation. This June joined nationally syndicated radio host and founder of the citizens for America Foundation, Dr. Chris Hughes, for four amazing days in our nation's capital. With Chris, you'll embark on a journey of discovering the hidden secrets of Washington, D.C. and rediscover much of America's forgotten Christian heritage. Your tour will include an up close and personal look at the nation's establishment and how it's evolved over the centuries. Learn about the government and the men who helped forge this new kind of republic, one that acknowledged the creator from its very inception.
Know the truth about the creation of the United States of America, about the faith of the founding fathers and how Christian principles were used to establish this form of government. Visit CitizensForAmericaFoundation.com today and secure your spot to join Chris Hughes in Washington, D.C. this June. This show is brought to you by Generous Joe's, the coffee company with the Christian perspective. This is the answer that Christians and conservatives have been looking for, a coffee company that gives back to causes you care about. Order your coffee today at ShopGenerousJoes.org and even subscribe to a subscription coffee plan and never forget the coffee you love or the causes you care about. at ConservativeBaptistNetwork.com to learn how you and your church can join and support this exciting movement.
Welcome back to Christian Perspectives. My name is Chris Hughes. My guest today is Debbie What's Now. She is the president of iVoterGuide. iVoterGuide, in my opinion, is the premier voter resource and tool in the country today. And there are a lot of great resources, a lot of great organizations, but iVoterGuide, better than anybody else, has come across on a national level to put together finance information, issues information, scorecards, and so many other things.
Debbie, I mean, I've got so many questions I want to ask you about. Can I ask you about the scorecards? You mentioned scorecards, so listeners, if you may not know what she's referring to, there are organizations for everything. There are teachers unions, there are labor unions, there are groups who are interested in what's happening with military and technology, and all these different specialty groups look at candidates when they're trying to decide who to support, and they have what we call scorecards in the industry where they try to determine if these candidates support issues that are important to whatever that organization may be. As Christians, we want to know where candidates stand on issues that are important to us as Christians in developing a biblical worldview and electing godly men and women to public office.
So Debbie, on your scorecard, what kind of questions are you asking? I'm assuming you send what, an email survey or something to candidates, so correct me if I'm wrong here. Usually I know a lot of the other organizations, and there are some great ones, you know, Family Research Council, Faith and Freedom Coalition, a lot of groups have scorecards, and usually what they do is send a questionnaire so the candidates themselves, it's not usually not a third party determining what they believe, but the candidates themselves have an opportunity, if they will take the time to fill out the card, to say where they stand on these issues.
Is that what y'all do, and what type of questions do you ask? So we don't technically produce what I would call a scorecard. What I call a scorecard is what organizations, let's say National Rights Life, looks at the members of Congress who are elected officials and they're in office, and then they look at the different pro-life bills or pro-choice bills that have then come before the Congress, and they choose certain votes that all of those elected officials had to do, and they, you know, pick 10, 20, 50 different vote, what they call a record vote, and they look at, did the candidate vote our way?
Did they vote our way or the other way? And then they give them a score, which is why we call that a scorecard. Groups like NRA do that, and focus on the family, Family Research Council does it, Right to Life Plan, Parenthood. We have 350 different scorecards that other organizations have done that have looked at the bills that the legislators, either at federal level or at a state level, have scored. So we gather all of those scorecards into iVoterGuide. We don't look at the particular individual record votes of the legislators, but we are getting as many data points from other groups who look at those record votes, and that's our scorecard part. And then we get, then we send a issue survey, we call it an issue questionnaire, to every candidate that we evaluate, and it covers a broad spectrum of every issue we can think of that's going to be important to faith-based voters. We cover immigration, health care, the economy, values, religious liberty.
I just can't, there's like 20 different topics. We have about 35 questions, and what we're trying to do through that questionnaire is give the voters visibility on how the candidate would answer those questions, because you can see all their answers at iVoterGuide.com. We give that all directly to the voters, because that's what iVoterGuide is designed for, is to give voters information on the candidates on the ballot. So we email the candidates, and they answer the survey on our website, so it's all directly in their words. They type it in themselves, and then we aggregate that together and create, I might call it a scoring page for iVoterGuide for all the candidates that are on the ballot, where we've gathered those other organizations' scorecards on the issues, where we've gathered a list of everybody that those candidates have given money to or received money from. We've gathered all the endorsements, because a lot of times candidates work very hard to get endorsed, by, you know, President Trump or Governor Abbott or, you know, whoever they look up to, and they think their voters would respond to, and we gather that and aggregate that all into one place, and then we have volunteer panelists that look at all of that data, kind of like Richard had his friends around the coffee table or actually his conference table.
We gather those volunteers. They each look at about 35 candidates. They dig deep. They look at all of the information we've gathered, how they've answered the survey. They read through their website. They read through their Twitter feed, any social media feed. They Google them. They dig.
What can they find? We guide them on our evaluation criteria, so we don't just research candidates. We actually evaluate candidates on their political philosophy on a scale from verified liberal to verified conservative, and that's what those volunteer panelists do.
We train them. We facilitate their digging, and then we pull them together on a Zoom meeting, where they're with three to five others that have looked at the same candidate. Our staff facilitates the meeting to discuss each candidate and where they fall on our guidelines of which rating the data matches with, so that we rate them, and then that's what goes and the voters and the voters get to see. So when you go to iVoterGuide.com, you enter your address, and then you'll see the races on your personalized ballot, and it'll list every candidate in that Republican primary and then a little gas gauge that shows you that rating, but if you want to see all the data, it's all there for you to see for yourself. Just click on the more button or the little arrows or their photo, and you can check it out for yourself, especially in the primary where there will be multiple candidates that are conservative or moderate or whatever ratings you align with, and you can look at the data, decide for yourself which one you want to vote for. We're just, we're not telling you who to vote for. We're trying to give you a tool so that you can decide for yourself which candidate is worthy of your vote. So if I wanted to know who the NRA endorsed or whose students for life endorsed, and if I dig deep enough or push that more button, it's going to actually tell me the endorsements from those individual organizations?
Yes, yes. We don't currently have a way for you to say, I want to see everybody, those students for life have endorsed. You would get that from the student for life website, but we've gathered together all of those groups, all of those endorsements, and it just shows on that candidates page.
You will see it there. What a tremendous resource. So folks, if you're listening, you would spend, if you're hearing what Debbie would tell you, you would just spend numerous hours trying to compile this information, and they are doing it all for you, and it's absolutely free for you. This is a ministry for them. They want to see godly men and women late to the public office, and they're giving you the tools.
I know, Debbie, you're probably the same way. Every election cycle, I have people from my church or, you know, from parent teachers organizations calling me and saying, you know, who should I vote for? Well, now you can tell them to go to iVoterGuide.com, and it'll have all the information because different people are interested in different things. You might be a Second Amendment person and want to know where Gun Owners of America or NRA stand or, you know, maybe life is your prime issue, whatever your issues are, you can find out what those organizations think about your candidate. So with the finances, I know you said when you first came on you were dealing with the financial side for candidates. Debbie, is there a way, do you list all the donors for a candidate or just certain ones?
I mean, if we want to know. Yeah, we don't list all the donors. What we do is go through a process of identifying ideological donors, so those groups that show either conservative or liberal values. We're trying to get at that rating, that verified liberal to verified conservative, so that you can have a, so the voters can have an idea of how that person will vote when they're in office. That's really our bottom, our goal is to evaluate their, not only their political philosophy, but world view, if possible.
We have several questions on our survey that get to world view. So that's what we're going after. And so in Campaigns Finance, we go through a process, we've downloaded all the data from the Federal Election Commission, any state that we cover their state legislative candidates, we download their full database of every, you know, every person who's given to the NRA, every person who's given to Planned Parenthood, and then we match that organization. And then we go through and match the candidate so that that relationship, you'll see just the name of the organization that is either, you know, receives money from or given money to that candidate. So it's just ideological names, but it's not a comprehensive list of every, you know, mom and pop who's given to somebody. That makes sense.
Yeah. When people go to your site, let's say election day is two or three days away, and I haven't done my research, I want to do my research now. You mentioned a while ago that in the 35 states, if I put in I guess, do you put in your zip code?
Is that how it knows where you are? Because we're now covering local races, you need to enter your full address, because it just the zip code just is too big to be able to specify. So you enter just your voting address, you don't have to enter your email address, you don't have to give any money. But that allows us to give you the races just on your ballot.
So to any in fact, it's even got some auto complete in there to help you get your address in there. Do you list like a, you know, like a sample ballot they can print out? Or is it just list the candidates that are running in their polling place, it lists the candidates in the races that we are covering. So just I mean, it's not going to list the races that I voted I hasn't researched. So if we're not covering your city council, so there will be races potentially on your when you get to the polling place that we have not covered. But if we've covered it, it will list all the candidates and their rating.
And there's a little icon in the upper right that looks like a printer. And you can print that and carry that with you to the polls. So the goal is done research for you. But yeah. And even that sheet, if I'm carrying the polls is already filled out to indicate the candidate is probably has a stronger biblical worldview than the other one that you're ready.
Yes, it is. But I would say so what I do personally, I didn't come into this with a lot of political knowledge. I feel like I represent the Christian voter who needs this information. I know there are a bunch of people out there who have friends who, who people will call them to who I vote for, and they'll send them a list. I'm the person who wants to ask somebody to tell me who to vote for. So I go into I voter guide before I voted. I'm in Texas, we just had a runoff election on May 24.
I would encourage you strongly vote in every election, not just November. But I went to I voter guide and it listed all the races. If there was more than one candidate that was the more conservative rating, I clicked into look at their their candidate profile page, I wanted to read how they answered the survey and see individuals that rated them so that I could choose between those that had the same rating, which one I wanted to vote for. So what I on the print icon, you can print the whole thing, or you can select the ones you've already decided who you're going to vote for. And then it will print that so you can take it to the polls with you. But you need to do a little bit of research before you just print the race page because you may have some that are rated the same. Yeah, that's great information. Folks, we're talking about I voter guide, you can learn more I voter guide.com. That's I voter guide.com. We're gonna take our last commercial break. When we come back, I'm gonna ask Debbie to share with us about the resources available to churches and how churches can use this great tool to help influence elections and elect all the men and women to public office.
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Welcome back to Christian Perspective. I'm Chris Hughes. My guest today is Debbie Wuffnow. She is the president of a great resource called iVoterGuide. You can go to iVoterGuide.com, and you just will have a wealth of information.
You can spend thousands of hours and never have the information that is available to you absolutely free in one location on the internet, and it's the best resource out there. I'm telling you, I've done this for many, many decades, and I've been involved in a lot of different campaigns, and there's some great resources by other organizations, but none have the comprehensive research and information available like you can get at iVoterGuide.com, so I want to encourage you to check them out. Before I ask about churches, Debbie, I wanted to ask you, so if I put in my address, it's going to give me a sample ballot that we just talked about that gives me information on the candidates running. Does it also tell me my polling place if I don't know where to vote? Yeah, no, if you go and enter your address, it'll take you to a page that'll either show you your sample ballot if we've already released the voter guide for your address. We are still working on voter guides for some of the states, so it may tell you, you know, we're still working on it. If you've got so many days until we release your voter guides and ask you to sign up for our email list, the benefit to you is we will then let you know when we've released that voter guide, so if you get on our email list, which I would strongly encourage you, we don't fill your email box. We mail about once a week, and then we'll let you know when elections are coming up so that you can go to check out the voter guide and go vote, but we do have on that same page, there's a little tile at the right, or if you're on a phone down at the bottom, they'll say, find my polling place, and that will take you to a link where you can find out where you go in your local area, and we're a nationwide voter guide, so it's probably going to take you to a link in your state where you click your county or click your city or do something to find out, you know, what are the hours of the polling places? What is the procedure for turning in my ballot?
Can I mail it in? You know, every state, I'm sure you can imagine, is its own unique beast as far as how they run their elections and how that works, but we've got all the links there on that ballot page, and then you can print it out and take it. And what you just said is such an important point, particularly coming out of the 2020 election, is election laws are not federal laws.
They're different in every state, and every state has their own regulations. If we don't know, if there's a listener out there who may not know if he or she are registered to vote, is there a database they can access through iVoterGuide, or is there a way for them to register to vote on iVoterGuide? We will have links for that, so I'm double checking it right now by entering my own address.
I'm sorry I asked all these questions. There it should be, and I'm double checking, a tile on the right that would give you a link to register to vote or to find out if you're registered. And let's see, is it there? Find your polling place, school board, way to start a poll. Email us and we will help you out. We've got a great team that has all that information and can direct you to the right place or the right place on our website or on the state website. So on the footer page for iVoterGuide, there's a contact us. If you have questions that you're not able to find the answer, just let us know. We have a great team that is really trying to provide as many resources as we can to voters.
So if you need some help, let us know. And again, folks, if you're just tuning in, we're talking about iVoterGuide.com. It is the best resource for particularly for Christian voters in the nation today. It's all absolutely free and so much information. You can find out where candidates are getting their donations from, who they're giving money to, how they voted on issues, how they're ranked by other organizations, where you vote in your neighborhood.
So much great information is available, what the election days are in your state. Debbie, I know a lot of churches ask, you know, is it legal for me to hand out a voter guide? And you have a great resource on your page just for churches. So if we have a pastor or deacon or somebody that's a leader in their church listening and they're afraid, you know, I can't, we can't do this because it's a violation of church estate.
Folks, I want to tell you that it's simply not true. There is nothing in the constitution that ever says anything about separation of church and state. And there's not a case where any church has lost their 501c3 status for registering voters.
That's right. You can have a voter registration drive at your church. And these, uh, this voter guide put out by iVoterGuide.com is what we call 501c3 compliant, meaning it's information and education that is available to Christian voters. It's not an endorsement.
It's just educating Christian voters. And it's a hundred percent legal for you to hand this out. You can even print out, I believe, Debbie, correct me if I'm wrong. I believe you can even print out a voter guide to insert in your bulletin. But can you tell us about the resources available for churches that might be listening? Sure.
Yeah, because it's really important. I feel like it's a Christian stewardship responsibility to vote because God tells us to vote. Because God tells us to be salt and white.
And the easiest way we can be salt and white is by getting people, electing people who represent us and what's important to us so that they pass laws that are consistent with our values. So on iVoterGuide.com in the top menu is the word ACT, A-C-T. You click on the ACT word and it'll show you various tiles or options of information we have. One of those is church resources. So if you click on church resources, we have information that you can pass out at church. We have a bulletin insert that you can download and print.
It's like two of them on an eight and a half by 11. So it fit in a bulletin. And it's not that voter guide like you might've seen in the past that says candidates side by side with, you know, this one supports or oppose these different issues. It's basically a flyer that says, go to iVoterGuide.com to get your personalized ballot.
Because everybody in my church, everybody is so dispersed. We couldn't print all of the state legislators. And if we started to do school board candidates that would be on that personalized ballot. So it really just tells voters, go to the website, enter your address, get your own ballot.
That is completely C3 compliance. We have a church slide that can be shown in PowerPoints before services. We have a little business card. It's like a push card that just says iVoterGuide.com grounded in God, rooted in research.
Go there to find out information on your candidates. And then we also have letters for the pastor from legal groups. So First Liberty wrote a document called Church and Government.
Know your legal rights that you can give to your pastor that just documents what Chris just said. There's also a letter from our legal counsel telling pastors or churches, any C3, that you can point people to iVoterGuide because we don't tell people who to vote for. We just give them information to decide for themselves. I will tell you, you can't print the ballot. It would be, as an individual, I can print the race ballot that gives the little ratings, but the ratings are something that is why iVoterGuide.com, we are a tax-exempt, but we are a 501c4 organization because of those ratings. Churches can send people to iVoterGuide, but they may not want to print the actual candidate evaluations and pass those out. But an individual in a congregation certainly can. That's on our church page. Right.
So if you go to iVoterGuide.com, you can get all this information. As Debbie said, they have a great logo slide that's already pre-made, like a PowerPoint slide. A lot of churches I know have slides prior to the service beginning or after the service, and that's something you should be putting in your rotation between now and November.
Every single week, have that slide up. And you can also put in your bulletin, even if you don't do the bulletin insert, which is available absolutely free, and I would certainly encourage you, once early voting begins that Sunday before early voting, you ought to put the entire insert because you want to educate Christian voters. We have George Barnas, who is a Christian pollster, says that there are nearly 40 million Christians who profess to be Christians that are eligible to vote that are not even registered to vote in the United States today. Pastors, I'm telling you, there's so many important issues right now, whether it's the abortion issue or, you know, the economy that affects your church, too. You're going to lose your right to tell other people about Jesus if we don't win this nation back to Jesus Christ. And part of the way we do that is to elect godly men and women to public office, and pastors, you need to be telling your church about the issues of the day, the candidates that are running, and this is the best way to do it.
It's 100% 501c3 compliant by encouraging your people in your church to visit iVoterGuide.com so they can learn more about the candidates and the issues that are coming up in your community, whether it's in primaries right now or in the general election in November. Debbie, are there any changes that we'll be seeing? I know you add so many new features.
I mean, from the time you joined in 2011 to now, this has just grown exponentially. Are there new things coming down the road that we can expect to find at iVoterGuide.com? Well, we're continuing to grow and expand, so the goal is to be covering, you know, more candidates, more races down ballot in the coming election. We're also looking at, it won't happen this cycle, but beyond 2022, covering ballot propositions, statewide ballot propositions, giving you a way to search for candidates by name, gathering the information on a particular issue and letting you see, if life was my issue, here's the pro-life groups and who they've endorsed. So there are so many, as we build out all this data, there's a whole bunch of ideas that we have for how we would grow and expand beyond 2022, and the biggest one in my book is we're trying to grow this army of volunteers who will help us to research down ballot, because it takes volunteers and it takes finances. So while we're provided free to voters, if you wanted to support what we do and you see value, I would ask for your support that way as well. So how do people do that if someone does want to volunteer? That's a great need.
How would they let you know their desire? That same act page that you have the church resources, it's called our get involved page. If you scroll down, there's one that says become a panelist, and panelists it says are an integral part of iVoterGuide's process to evaluate candidates, and we need panelists from all 50 states.
So you can click the learn more button. It'll go and tell you about the requirements. It's about, we estimate eight to 12 hours of your time per election, but we do require you to apply.
There's a button apply now. You can apply and see if you can become a panelist and that helps us. That's who evaluates the candidates. What we've heard from the people who serve as panelists is not only do they feel like they're performing a valuable community service to their neighbors in researching and evaluating these candidates, but they learn what to look for in the candidates, in the races that even we don't cover. So they feel equipped to go and look for their county judge or information on their, you know, city council.
So it's equipping people in more ways than one. It's equipping them on who to vote for, but also how to be a more informed voter. Wow, such great information. This is something that has really been needed for a long time. And Debbie, I commend you and your company for what you're doing to help Christians become educated voters. Thank you so much for being with us today. Oh, thank you, Chris, for the opportunity. We all just have to work together. That's how the body of Christ is supposed to. So glad we can play our part.
Amen. So folks, visit iVoterGuide.com. That's iVoterGuide.com. You can learn about what your church can do with the resources available, and you can even volunteer to help them as they screen candidates.
Again, it's iVoterGuide.com. Thank you so much for listening today, listening here each and every day at your favorite radio station. And this show will be released later today in podcast format if you want your pastor to be able to hear what Debbie and her team are doing at iVoterGuide.com. Until next time, let's impact the culture for Jesus. Thank you for listening. The Christian Perspective with Chris Hughes. Learn more about impacting the culture for Jesus. Visit citizensforamericafoundation.com.
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