Celebrating the Volunteer Creators of the Douglas County Voters’ Guide

Heroes of the League of Women Voters

Developing and providing the League of Women Voters’ Guide is a “herculean task.” It takes many dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to produce the Guide in a very short time. Featured below are four volunteers who devoted over 300 hours developing the Guide for the 2018 Primary and General Elections. These volunteers are heroes of the League of Women Voters.

Kathy Dewell

This is the eighth Guide for Kathy who serves as editor of the League of Women Voters Greater Omaha (LWVGO) Douglas County Voters Guide that includes local political races.  Kathy believes the Guide is important so citizens make informed educated decisions on who they want to serve in political office, rather than relying on recommendations by parties, partisan groups, etc.  She emphasizes that lesser known races matter deeply to the health of our community. Kathy believes the Guide helps citizens understand what a candidate stands for and provides details on how he/she plan to carry out their beliefs.  Kathy works in IT for Mutual of Omaha, is married and the mother of two children ages, 17 & 19.

Rebecca Armstrong Langle

This is the 10th Voters’ Guide for Rebecca who has been helping LWVGO and the State League since 2012. Rebecca manages candidate information for the state offices and state legislature on the Vote411.org website for all Nebraskans. Rebecca is Vice President of Development at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, is an alumnus of the New Leaders Council and is nominated for the 2018 Emerging Non-Profit Leader. From her political science education and experience working for Senator Ben Nelson, Rebecca is interested in education of voters and equality issues and generously gives back to the community. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Ryan and dog, Delilah.  

Laura Torres Olivera

Laura translated the Voters’ Guide into Spanish. Laura came to Omaha from Mexico City, Mexico 10 years ago. Growing up, Laura had the opportunity to live in France and Canada. She speaks English, Spanish and French. She is married and has one son who is studying at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. In Mexico, Laura worked for Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior (National Bank for Foreign Trade). Her activities focused on the improvement of foreign investment in Mexico. Laura is passionate about the promotion of democracy, transparency and the betterment of representative forms of government.

Lilia Franciscony

Lilia served as the proofreader of the Spanish language guide.  Recently retired from Omaha Steaks as a Bilingual Benefits Specialist, and prior to that, Lilia retired from Mutual of Omaha as a translator.   Lilia came to the United States from Caracas Venezuela 35 years ago to attend graduate school at UNO. Lilia has one daughter who lives here in Omaha. Lilia enjoys the League because it provides a clear consistent structure of support to the community and provides her with options to donate as much or as little time as her schedule permits. Her experience of living in another country, has made Lilia want to embrace and defend democracy as a right and a duty.

The Making of the Voters’ Guide & Vote411.org

The Voters’ Guide has been an institution in Douglas County for the past 50 years and is appreciated throughout the state. The LWVGO Voters’ Guide covers statewide races as well as local races in Douglas County. The Douglas County Election Commission requests the paper guides on the first day of early voting because voters ask for and expect it. The other Nebraska Leagues in Lincoln, Hastings and Seward did not provide local candidate Guides in 2018 but promote utilization of Vote411.org website for its content on statewide races (Legislature, Governor, and many state offices.)

The 2018 paper Guide was printed for the Primary and General Elections. The Voters Guide team was exemplary in providing the Guide on the day ballots were mailed out to the public, (35 days prior to the election) which is challenging because of the late deadline established for candidates filing for office.  The Voters’ Guide for the Primary election covered 46 offices/districts. The 48-page general election Guide covered 59 races and districts and was translated into Spanish.

The Voters’ Guide team contacts candidates during each election cycle and invites them to participate in the print and online editions of the Voters’ Guide. Candidates provide their biographical information and their positions on selected issues. Candidates are aware in advance that the biographies and answers will be printed exactly as submitted without edits for content, spelling, punctuation or grammar. They are asked to submit their answers online in the www.vote411.org website.  The process of “making” the Guide is a detailed complicated undertaking, below is a condensed listing of the steps to making the Voters’ Guide:

  • Contact Election commission and Secretary of State to determine if any district boundaries have changed.  If boundaries have changed, purchase updated GIS files from the Commission and upload.
  • Obtain a list of candidates from the Election office, which does not always include the candidates email address.  Volunteers try to obtain missing email addresses.
  • Form questions for candidates by a committee to obtain their position on several key issues, these questions are inputted into vote411.org
  • Prepare Vote411.org with offices on the ballot set up, develop email templates for candidates
  • Send candidates a postcard to make them aware they will be receiving an email with details on how to participate in the Voters’ Guide.  Next, they receive an email invitation with a link to answer the candidate questions on vote411 website
  • Send reminder emails to candidates who do not respond
  • Format paper Voters’ Guide for printing

Funders of Vote411 & Voters Guide

Thanks to the Nebraska Civic Engagement Table for helping fund the Douglas County Voters Guide!