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Guidance to State/Local Leagues Regarding Co-Sponsorship
of Presidential Primary Debates
The League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) Board of Trustees must approve any project involving presidential candidates.
Statement on the Presidential Debates for the General Election
The debates are firmly in the control of the Presidential Debates Commission for the general elections. Given this fact, there is little incentive for the commission to co-sponsor, and therefore, to share decision-making for the debates with other organizations. Similarly, there is little incentive for the candidates to debate outside the "safe" environment created by the party-controlled commission. Thus, the LWVEF does not anticipate any direct involvement in presidential general election debates.
Presidential Primary Debates
State and local Leagues - particularly in key primary states - may contemplate hosting a presidential primary debate. In order that a League understands what it really takes to host a presidential primary debate, the following questions raise important items to consider:
After consideration of these factors, if a League wants to sponsor or co-sponsor a presidential primary debate, the following steps must be taken to obtain permission from the LWVEF Board of Trustees:
A written proposal needs to be submitted to the LWVEF Board, addressing the points above and below so the LWVEF Board has the assurance that --
A local League that has been approached to sponsor or co-sponsor a presidential primary debate must provide evidence that its state League endorses the project and will work with the local League to ensure compliance with the criteria outlined above.
Even if the LWVEF Board does approve a request, it is not anticipated that the LWV national office will be able to provide either financial assistance or debate advice.
* See Face to Face: A Guide to Candidate Debates (LWVEF pub #830) for a discussion of legal considerations and other issues involved in sponsoring candidate debates.