The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Virginia Legislators Carry On Tradition of Ignoring Voters

2015 August 25 - Melisa Oberti

Vote Smart announced today, after repeated requests only 22 state legislative candidates were willing to provide citizens with specific issue positions.

Vote Smart, an organization started by Presidents Carter and Ford, has been testing all congressional and state legislative candidates’ willingness to provide citizens with essential issue positions since the early 1990s. Melisa Oberti, Vote Smart spokesperson said that after 4 repeated requests,
less than 10% of the 210 legislative candidates were willing to show enough courage to tell citizens where they stood on 10 key issues. That is far fewer
than candidates running for federal offices, which have often had a majority of candidates willing to show courage. However, the number of candidates
willing to provide such information has been steadily declining from a high of 72% in 1996 to less than 10% here in Virginia today.

This national trend is in lock step with the increasing nastiness of political tactics. “Today’s candidates' fear of opposition research is much stronger than their desire to keep voters informed. The horror of this trend,” said Ms. Oberti, “Is that you cannot inform voters without informing your opponent who is likely to use anything and
everything -- both true and untrue -- against you.” Vote Smart not only tests the candidates’ willingness to provide this information, but also collects each candidate’s biographical information, voting records, interest group ratings and campaign finances. This enables any citizen to see instantly who these people are and how they behave, whether they were willing to provide clear issue positions or not ...

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