Importance of Panelists

by Debbie Wuthnow

The Importance of Panelists

Do you ever wonder how iVoterGuide is able to evaluate and rate the political philosophies of thousands of candidates so that voters are well informed?

The answer is: through the work of hundreds of trained, vetted volunteer panelists.

Panelists are a key component to producing a reliable, helpful guide. Without their contribution, our voter guide would simply be a collection of information on each candidate, rather than an understanding of how that information indicates the way a candidate will likely govern if elected. 

Our staff is currently compiling voting records, contribution records, endorsements, links to candidate websites, and answers candidates provide to our questionnaire. However, we rely on our great volunteers to go one step beyond our research and assign an evaluation to each candidate based on the conservative to liberal spectrum.

You can think of our researchers as detectives trying to sleuth out evidence that reveals a candidate’s convictions, and our panelists as the “jury” deciding what kind of public servant the evidence indicates the candidate will be if elected.

How do panelists accomplish this important task?

The goal of panelists is to review all of the research and synthesize the data into an easily understandable descriptive label.  The label (called a “rating”) relays the confidence level the panelists have on whether a candidate will vote conservatively or liberally if elected. The confidence level must be supported with sound reasoning based on publicly available and attributable information, rather than subjective information or personal opinion. After individually reviewing the data and assigning a rating to each candidate, panelists meet online in groups of three to five to compare evaluations and arrive at a consensus for the final rating of each candidate.

Ratings are not an endorsement of a candidate by iVoterGuide; they are simply a reflection of the panel’s evaluation of a candidate’s political philosophy, and are particularly helpful to voters who do not have time to look at the detailed information iVoterGuide collects on each candidate.  

iVoterGuide never tells you who to vote for; we give you the information so that you can decide for yourself with confidence.

To maintain consistency, ratings are based on criteria developed by iVoterGuide (which will be explained in an upcoming email), and meetings are overseen by an iVoterGuide staff member.

Who are our panelists?

Our volunteer panelists are moms, dads, grandparents, and students. They are biblically minded citizens who desire to help voters determine which candidates will stand up for the issues they care about most. When it's practical, panelists are asked to evaluate candidates in their home state, since they may have insight that someone from another state does not. Obviously, panelists must recuse themselves from rating any candidates in a race where there is a conflict of interest.

To ensure the evaluation is accurate, we have two levels of panels, requiring two types of panelists:

  • Standard panelists—tasked with assigning the initial rating to each candidate. They comprise the majority of our panelists and do the bulk of the work.
  • Oversight panelists—tasked with reviewing the standard panel’s ratings, oversight panels are comprised of individuals who have comprehensive knowledge about candidates for federal and state offices.

What can I do?

Voters are depending on us to evaluate over 12,000 candidates this year. That feat is impossible without the contribution of hundreds of volunteer panelists from across the nation. The quality and trustworthiness of iVoterGuide is enhanced by the number of people who take part in the process of assigning candidate ratings. Just as the Bible tells us, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14)

We need individuals willing to serve as panelists and help equip their fellow Judeo-Christian voters.

If you have previously served as a panelist, we’d like to express our heartfelt thanks!  If you have never been a panelist and are interested in applying, please click on this link to learn more and take our leadership survey. A total time commitment of approximately 12 hours, including training, is requested of each selected panelist. All work is done using your own computer from the comfort of your home or office.

We may not need you until the General Election if your state has an early primary (for example, we no longer need panelists for the Texas March Primary, since our volunteer response has been very generous). We may also inquire if you would be willing to evaluate candidates in a different state from your own.

As we prepare for the 2022 elections, we are seeking and praying for panelists who believe in our mission of empowering Christians to vote wisely and be good stewards of their citizenship in order to restore the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and traditional American values.  Being a panelist is a unique opportunity to impact your state and our nation for God’s kingdom. I hope you will join us!

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