ACLU candidate forum hopes to engage voters

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Kansas House of Representatives candidates spoke Wednesday at a public forum put on by the ACLU of Kansas. The ACLU invited all Topeka area representative candidates to take part in the forum.

Although only four democrats showed up, ACLU Director of Communications Mark McCormick said it still helps educate voters.

"An informed electorate makes for a stronger democracy," McCormick said.

Democrats Dan Brennan from the 50th district, Toni Scalia from the 52nd, Sarah Coats from the 54th and Virgil Weigel from the 56th, answered questions both from a moderator and the crowd regarding voting rights and criminal justice.

Their republican opponents, Fred Patton, Brenda Dietrich, Ken Corbet and Michael Snowden did not attend.

"Issues regarding voting, issues regarding criminal justice reform, that's what we're focusing on,” McCormick said. “We think those are so important and we also think that these are issues that would resonate with voters."

McCormick said letting voters ask their own questions keeps them engaged and hopefully prompts them to get out and cast their ballots.

"Increasingly, people are disengaging from civic life,” McCormick said. “We want more people to vote and we don't care how you vote. Just get out and vote."

The ACLU sponsored a similar forum last week in Wichita and they'll hold two more next week in the Johnson County area.