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Happy Halloween From Project Vote Smart

1 November 2008
Written by

Halloween has a special place in my heart, it's a day where we get to make up a persona or character, dress the part, and parade ourselves around to try to get some free treats and be generally jocular with others doing the same thing.
Having followed, very closely, the many races politicians are in, today I feel we can all better appreciate what it is they do. After all, what is a campaign if not Halloween everyday? Candidates dress themselves up as a persona or character, and parade around the district, state, or country looking for treats, be it money or votes.
We here at Project Vote Smart, however, asked something of the candidates that many of them didn't want to give. We asked "are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you are most likely to face on their behalf?". It's the core question of Vote Smart's Political Courage Test.
I was there when the Political Courage Test was born, as a member of a dedicated team developing it for the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative candidates. I made some of the calls to the first candidates that received the Test. And for those of us involved in its development, this Halloween marks an important anniversary. It marks the first time we asked the candidates for a peek under their mask. On this day in 2007, the first Political Courage Tests were due. Some may argue that the Tests were due from the most important candidates. The presidential candidates. So here's a fun question you may not know the answer to- How many registered presidential candidates are hoping to drop the balloons in 4 days? I bet if you were to take the number you just came up with and multiplied it by 50 you'd still be too low. It's 317.
Three hundred and seventeen citizens of the United States feel they are the best option to be the Commander-in-Chief. I don't know what you think of, but that reminds me of American Idol. Everyone that auditions there thinks they are the best singer in the nation, how many of them can actually hold a tune? But I digress. We were able to test 234 of these hopefuls, missing the rest because of filing deadlines and dealing with testing all state and federal candidates. Fifty-nine of those presidential candidates were willing to take the test; a higher percentage than federal (41%), gubernatorial (46%) and state legislative (21%) candidates.
These numbers do feel a little defeating, but we are hopeful. Project Vote Smart isn't going anywhere. So long as politicians are spending your money to bend facts, and create false images, we will be there to see which ones are willing to rise above and provide the straight facts. And for those candidates that aren't? Keep an eye on the website, we've got a few plans for them.

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