CARSON CITY — A nonpartisan group is circulating its election-season "political courage test" in Nevada, and hoping that the state’s legislative and congressional candidates take time to respond by an Oct. 8 deadline.
The test "highlights one key aspect of political candidates’ public integrity — their willingness to tell voters how they may handle important issues on the voters’ behalf," Project Vote Smart volunteer Elaine Patterson said Monday.
Nevada’s House candidates had a response rate of only 35 percent in the 2006 elections, compared with a national average of 48 percent. That’s typical — congressional hopefuls in the state have topped the national average only once in the past eight elections, in 1994.
The rate is worse for Nevada’s legislative candidates, who had only a 13 percent response rate in 2006 compared with a national average of 26 percent. The last time the candidates for state Assembly or Senate bettered the national response rate was in 1996.
"There are no right or wrong answers to the test questions," Patterson said. "Stating a position on 70 percent or more of the issues earns a ‘passing’ grade."
"It is of great value for the public to know which candidates are willing to provide information on their issue positions in order to equip voters to make an informed choice," she added.
The "courage test" for congressional candidates focuses on issues such as abortion, taxes, the federal budget, government reform, crime, education, guns, employment, environment and energy, health, immigration, international policy, national security.
There also are questions dealing with Social Security, welfare and poverty and social matters such as same-sex marriages, Internet gambling and stem cell research.
The test for Nevada Senate and Assembly contenders focuses on similar issues at the state level.
Project Vote Smart says the issues included in the tests are determined by examining national and state polls over the last three years as well as political parties’ platforms and key speeches by national and state leaders.
The issues covered in the tests, according to Project Vote Smart, are "those that are consistently the top concerns of the American people and also likely to come up in the next legislative session."ON THE WEB Project Vote Smart