National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Bringing Mental Healthcare to the Ballot
2008 Candidate Question Tip Sheet

Get involved in elections!

NAMI National encourages all of our grassroots leaders and members to get politically involved and let candidates know that voters are concerned about mental illness and access to treatment and services.

To help you with this, we have developed some candidate questions that you can use at candidate forums and as questionnaires.  However, we do want to caution you that NAMI and its affiliates are 501(c)(3) organizations.  Because of this non-profit status, we must remain nonpartisan and cannot endorse or imply support of any candidate or party.  We also must give all candidates equal opportunity to present their views and any educational activities must be extended to all candidates.

  • If you are meeting with candidates, make the same efforts to meet with all the candidates in a particular race.
  • If you mail or provide educational materials, make sure you have done so for all candidates.
  • If you wish to use a questionnaire, make sure that you send the questionnaire to all candidates for an elected office, give all candidates a reasonable time period (e.g. three weeks) to give their responses and information, and print the responses from all candidates without any edits and do not editorialize or comment on the answers. 
  • If you have candidates who do not respond, you may choose to list “Did not respond” or “Candidate has a policy of not responding to questionnaires,” depending on circumstances.  It is good practice to let a candidate know, in advance, if you intend to do this.  It is also advisable to give candidates the opportunity to review the final draft of their information and make corrections before it is posted or distributed to your membership.

If you prefer to draft your own questions, please be aware that there are rules regarding what is permissible. If you plan to print other material in the same newsletter as responses to questionnaires, there are also rules specifying what else can be included.  For example, an organization cannot print its views on a single issue to compare the candidates.  These rules are all discussed in the resources found here.

If you have any questions or would like assistance participating in election activities, please contact Angela Kimball at