Every election year Project Vote Smart, a non-partisan voter education organization, conducts what's called the Political Courage Test, asking candidates to go on the record on hot button issues. But fewer candidates are choosing to take the test.
The questions are straightforward: Do you support same-sex marriage? Do you believe that human activity is contributing to climate change? Candidates may answer yes or no - or articulate a more nuanced position if needed. Responses peaked nationally in 1996 at 72 percent, a number that's been steadily declining ever since. Project Vote Smart spokeswoman Carly Griffin says only 38 percent took part in 2010.
"They really want to be able to control their message and the Political Courage Test puts them out there and it basically makes them state their answers on questions that are important and need answers but maybe they're not willing to talk about them," she said. Kentucky gubernatorial candidates Steve Beshear, David Williams, and Gatewood Galbraith were recently mailed the questionnaire. Their deadline is October 5th. Voters can find out who took the test and how they answered the questions a few days later on VoteSmart.org.