Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Voter guides

Catholic News Service reports on voter guides, with a special mention of the survey Albany Catholic mentioned last month from the New York State Catholic Conference:
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In the absence of a "Faithful Citizenship" document from the U.S. bishops to guide Catholic voters in this midterm election, groups as diverse as the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Priests for Life, state Catholic conferences and new organizations with names like Red Letter Christians and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good are stepping into the fray.

But the voters' guides and other election guidance offered by the groups must walk a fine line between providing nonpartisan political information -- permitted by the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt religious organizations -- and endorsing particular candidates, which is clearly banned under IRS guidelines.

Some of the offerings, like Maryknoll's one-page guide on "becoming a global good neighbor," cover general principles, while others get much more specific -- publishing candidates' responses to a set of questions on topics of interest to Catholic voters.

The New York State Catholic Conference recently mailed a 10-question survey to 400 candidates for elective office in the state. The candidates were asked to answer yes, no or "no position" to questions about school vouchers, taxpayer funding of abortion, labor rights for migrant farmworkers, same-sex marriage, the death penalty and other issues.

"The purpose is not to endorse one candidate over another or to tell Catholics how to vote, but to inform Catholic citizens as to where each candidate stands on issues of particular concern to the Catholic Church in her commitment to serve the common good," said Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the conference, in a Sept. 13 letter to candidates.

The entire article is available here.