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League of Women Voters of Alabama
1321 Dauphin St.
Mobile, AL  36604
Phone: 205-871-8194
November 6, 2017   

Barbara Caddell
251 610-2279


By Barbara Caddell, President, League of Women Voters of Alabama

The League of Women Voters of Alabama regretfully announces that it will not be holding a candidate forum for the upcoming U.S. Senate race. Alabama has not had an open -- or competitive -- race for this important position in two decades. So it is unfortunate that candidate Roy Moore will not appear in a forum with Doug Jones.

We had high hopes, teaming up with Alabama Public Television and The Andrew Goodman Foundation chapter at the University of Alabama to present a non-partisan, unbiased event highlighting each candidate’s stand on issues of importance to Alabamians. Unfortunately, after weeks of reaching out to the campaigns, we could not get both candidates to agree to participate.  Although the Doug Jones campaign expressed an interest in appearing at the forum, the scheduler for the Roy Moore campaign told The Andrew Goodman Foundation representative that Moore was not interested in appearing on stage with the other candidate.

The League of Women Voters has been providing citizens with impartial candidate information since our formation 97 years ago. We never tell voters who they should or should not vote for. Nevertheless, we believe Alabamians need to know when a candidate declines to participate in activities that help voters make more informed decisions.

Moore’s refusal to participate has effectively killed our forum. As a matter of principle, the League does not hold “empty chair” candidate events when one of two candidates chooses not to participate.  We believe that an empty chair does not adequately depict a candidate – even when candidates are not interested in presenting their views -- and both candidates need to be present in order for the democratic process to work.

To say we are disappointed is an understatement. We were disappointed for the students who were excited to participate in this component of democracy close up. More than this, we were disappointed for the voters of Alabama. Because one candidate refused to participate, Alabama citizens have been deprived of the opportunity to hear from both candidates side by side, and our democracy suffers from a lack of information.

The whole point of a forum like the one we planned is to have a thoughtful exchange of ideas. A candidate forum allows citizens to compare candidates issue by issue; voters can see how candidates understand the issues and verbalize their positions under scrutiny. With the support of the Alabama Public Television Network, citizens throughout Alabama could have seen this event commercial-free.

Candidates running for office are applying for a job, and candidate forums are like job interviews. Who would hire an applicant without an interview? The citizens of Alabama??


Photo of Barbara Caddell, President LWVAL 2017-2019
Barbara Caddell is President of the League of Women Voters of Alabama, a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.  For additional information on current programs, please visit our website at

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