Whether the subject is zoning, elections or stormwater, Alice Giles can talk fast and she can talk extensively.
Providing information is what Giles, 26, does as co-president of the League of Women Voters of Howard County.
Before elections, the nonpartisan group creates an election guide and holds forums for prospective candidates.
"We're a group who figures we don't have all the answers," said Giles, who works as a curriculum editor for the Maryland State Department of Education. "But we believe the more information you have, the better answers you can find."
Giles said she believes the league fills a niche for people like her, who are looking for accurate information in a format that attempts to eliminate bias.
"It's great that we can put up information about a bill and link citizens directly to the legislation, to the council agenda, to background research, and to the testimony page," Giles noted. "We're the people who really like following these things and online we can make it much easier for people who don't work with the government on a daily basis to be informed and involved."
Just sending out a hard-copy election guide isn't enough, according to Giles, who is working with the league to distribute information electronically.
"I want to make it a more modern, active group," said Giles, who lives in North Laurel, in an interview with Patch. "The answer to how I make it more modern is 'The Internet.'"
Recent developments for the League of Women Voters online include the following:
- Short, unedited Youtube interviews with this year's school board candidates
- Facebook and Twitter accounts
- Membership forms and applications online
- PayPal on the group's site so supporters can donate
- Online voter guides
Of course, Giles isn't working by herself to bring more of the League's information online.
She said Sarah Husain has taken the lead on campaign interviews; action chairs Alison Carney and Valerie Montague are working on a shared database with nonpartisan groups; and copresident Betsy Singer is handling information related to the Board of Education race.
Giles, who is the daughter of current school board member and candidate Ellen Flynn Giles, said the League of Women Voters uses two presidents to stay unbiased.
"My mother is on the school board, she's running for re-election, so it's hard to be non-biased on that one," admitted Giles.
Other than that, Giles said she stays objective by understanding she doesn't know all the answers.
"I constantly find in discussions with people that I'm missing a piece or I may be wrong," said Giles, who noted that putting information online gives residents the opportunity to look deeper into issues and candidates.
Nationally, the League of Women Voters, which was founded 93 years ago, six months before women received the right to vote, supports wind energy, prevention of fracking, open government and marriage equality as well as ensuring fair elections, said Giles.
Over the next two months, the Howard County League of Women Voters will be sponsoring three forums so voters can learn more about candidates and local issues (information from League of Women Voters website):
- Board of Education: 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24, at the Howard County Public School System Television Studio, 10920 Route 108. Seating is quite limited, but the forum will air live, be televised regularly, and hosted online.
- Congressional Candidates: 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at the George Howard Building, Banneker Room. Tons of seating, and this event will air live, be televised regularly, and hosted online.
- Ballot Questions: 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25, at the George Howard Building, Banneker Room. Tons of seating, and this event will air live, be televised regularly, and hosted online.
Also, the League will be hosting the Capitol Steps, a comedy group from Washington D.C. that specializes in political satire, for a fundraiser on Oct. 7 at 4 p.m. at the Rouse Theatre.