How does the Indiana Debate Commission select questions for candidates?
Hoosiers are generally asked to submit questions online. Questions are reviewed by the board and a committee of the board. Voters who are selected are often asked to attend debates in person and ask their questions during the live broadcasts. The commission reserves the right to ask additional questions during the debates and may also ask submitters to clarify a question that may not be relevant to all candidates. Questions that are not open ended for all candidates are generally not used.
Does the commission track viewership?
Only if media outlets that participate in broadcasting debates voluntarily report or provide those numbers. The commission does not pay for Nielsen data, which is subscription data that tracks generally only commercial stations. In Indiana, many of the broadcasters who use the free satellite feed are public affiliates and stations.
How is the commission funded?
The commission is incorporated in the state of Indiana and is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. For each election cycle, the commission relies on volunteers who donate their services and time. There is no paid staff. Financial support generally comes from affiliates and their foundations for the base of the commission’s operations. Without the generosity of our affiliated groups, our mission of “Putting Voters First” would not be possible.
Has any other state formed a formal debate commission?
Two other states that we know of – Washington and Utah – have founded statewide debate organizations (using somewhat different models) since the IDC began its work.
Why did the commission form as a nonprofit corporation?
The consensus of the 17 original groups involved in planning the IDC in 2007 was that a more formal organization was necessary for structure, fundraising, accountability and the engagement of candidates. Candidates and political organizers had also expressed interest in a similar nonpartisan mechanism that would offer fairness and accountability. The mission of the IDC is to provide that structure, ensuring consistent formats and the largest dissemination of debates possible for candidates seeking elected office in Indiana.