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New York Special Election Candidates Lack Courage

9 September 2011
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GREAT DIVIDE RANCH, MT., September 9, 2011 - Project Vote Smart released the 2011 Political Courage Test results today for 9th Congressional District special election candidates, showing Christopher Hoeppner, Robert Turner, and David Weprin all refused to supply voters with their positions on the key issues addressed in the Test. Since 1992, the Political Courage Test has asked all candidates one central question: "Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face if elected?" Candidates who reply "yes" to that question are presented with several issue categories in which they are asked to indicate support for given principles, or reply using their own language entirely. The unwillingness of all three 9th congressional district candidates to provide voters with their issue positions is part of a growing national trend, as Test response rates have steadily fallen from a high of seventy-two percent (72%) in 1996, to an all-time low of thirty-eight percent (38%) in 2010. Project Vote Smart has found that party leaders and consultants from both major parties advise candidates not to respond to the Test for two primary reasons: it will limit the candidates' ability to control their campaign messages and it will expose them to opposition research. "When candidates decide to hide behind talking points and manipulative campaign tactics, they are contributing to a deliberate dumbing down of the American electorate," said Richard Kimball, Project Vote Smart President. "When you keep your opponent in the dark, you keep the voter there as well." The Political Courage Test is a collaborative effort between the Project and over 200 political scientists, journalists, and leaders from across the political spectrum, speaking to the Test's unmatched neutrality and objectivity. Issue areas addressed inside the Test are researched using polling data, the majority, minority and third party platforms, State of the Union and Response speeches, State of the State and Response speeches, and legislative agendas. Sample questions on the 2011 Test include:
  • Education Issues - Should illegal immigrants who graduate from West Virginia high schools be eligible for in-state tuition at public universities?
  • Gun Issues - Do you support requiring background checks on all firearms sales at gun shows, including sales by unlicensed dealers?
  • Health Issues - Do you support requiring individuals to purchase health care insurance?
  • Social Issues - Do you support same-sex marriage?
For Political Courage Test results and more factual data on each candidate including voting records, public statements, interest group ratings and more, visit Project Vote Smart's website (www.votesmart.org) or speak with our researchers via the toll-free Voter's Research Hotline (1-888-VOTE SMART). About Project Vote Smart: Founded by 40 national leaders such as Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, Vote Smart researches the voting records, backgrounds, issue positions, campaign contributions, interest group ratings, and public statements of more than 40,000 candidates and elected officials. This information, as well as ballot measures and voter registration information is available through www.votesmart.org, the Voter's Research Hotline (1-888-VOTE SMART), free publications (U.S. Government Owner's Manual), and the new VoteEasy interactive application. Inaugurated in 1992, Project Vote Smart is non-partisan and nonprofit in mission, and is funded entirely by foundation grants and individual contributions.

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