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Everything You Need to Know About Vote Smart's Courage Test


Know Where Your Candidates Really Stand!

When scores of candidates are competing for your vote, it is easy to forget how important it is to truly know who they are and what they stand for. The task of researching the full history and platform of each candidate can seem daunting, especially in the face of mainstream media that so often pushes fear instead of facts. Not to mention, researching each candidate takes lots of time and attention. That's where Vote Smart comes in. At our headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, there is a dedicated team of staff and interns who do all the research for you. Your only job? Go to the polls and Vote Smart! How do we do it? Our staff, with the help of advisors from across the country and political spectrum, sends out the Political Courage Test to candidates to measure their willingness to tell voters where they stand on the issues most important to the American people. Candidates are contacted multiple times over a six-week period by mail, phone, and email. What is it? The Political Courage Test functions the same way a job application does - you are, after all, hiring your representatives with your vote. Those who are elected become your employees. Just as an employer would want to know what their potential employees are going to do for them, so should you know about your candidates. The Political Courage Test reveals how willing your candidates are to tell you where they truly stand on the issues that matter to YOU. The Political Courage Test asks one central question: “Are you willing to tell citizens where you stand on the issues you may face if elected?” We ask them to demonstrate this willingness by answering a few questions that are both relevant to the public and likely to come up in their legislature. This way, you are able to get an idea of how they will represent you if hired by your vote.


The test is reviewed and vetted by over 200 political scientists, journalists and every member of the Vote Smart Founding Board in order to provide accuracy, nonpartisanship and, above all, the facts.

What if a candidate fails the test? "When a Congressional candidate fails to answers the voters' questions, we tap into our expansive database of speeches, voting records and interest group ratings to determine their positions on the issues. We aim to make it as easy as possible for voters to make informed decisions, even when candidates aren't willing to do their part." - Peter McLaughlin, Vote Smart's Director of Elections and Candidate Research Why is the Courage Test so important? The Political Courage Test is incredibly important, now more than ever. It provides transparency in a world filled with blurred lines and false facts. This test allows all voters to be certain that they are electing representatives who will represent them as promised. "The Courage Test is so important because it cuts through campaign rhetoric and goes straight to the issues people care about. Every candidate, regardless of party, ideology, or experience, is given the same chance to tell voters how they will vote on the major issues they will face if elected." - Peter McLaughlin


How can you find your the Courage Test results for your officials and candidates? The Political Courage Test results and your current congressional officials can be found here on our website. Use your zip code to find your candidates.


Vote Smart also uses the Courage Test to power VoteEasy, where voters can easily find which candidates best align with their views on key issues.


The Vote Smart research team has released Courage Test answers and issue position research for all congressional candidates that have had primary elections. They are currently testing all state legislative, gubernatorial and congressional candidates in all 50 states. As soon as candidates take the Courage Test, their answers are immediately released on all our free tools. Check out your candidates and their Political Courage Tests HERE.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Vote Smart was started by Presidents Carter and Ford along with 38 other national leaders to defend every citizen's right to abundant, accurate, factual information on their elected officials and candidates.  Its programs and services are free to all of our fellow Americans.  We are dependent upon thousands of small contributions from citizens just like you. Please help us if you can.  We need the support of every thinking American who knows that facts matter. Fight for the Facts! Donate to Vote Smart!

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