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As others see it: A vote for Vote Smart

Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face on their behalf?

Again this election year, Project Vote Smart is asking that baseline question of candidates running for state and federal offices. And again this election year, we echo Vote Smart's query.

More importantly, we join the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in asking Minnesota's state and federal candidates to take its Political Courage Test.

This three-page test, which was mailed to state and federal candidates Aug. 11 and must be completed by Sept. 22, is a thorough and objective measure of candidates' positions on key issues.

Volunteers and interns at Vote Smart have put together a combination of yes/no and short-answer questions built specifically on Minnesota issues. Depending on the volume of responses, Vote Smart will post answers at its website about the middle of October.

Indeed, it's that volume of responses that is disconcerting.

Vote Smart's totals the past several elections show growing numbers of candidates apparently don't want to tell voters their positions. At least not via an objective, easy-to-understand tool like this test. In Minnesota in 2008, only 40 percent of congressional candidates and 19 percent of state legislative candidates took the test. That compares to a national Vote Smart study that showed only 48 percent of candidates -- and only 26 percent of incumbents -- were willing to take the test two years earlier. Back in 1996, 72 percent of all candidates took the test. ...

Please, federal and state candidates, tell voters where you stand.

St. Cloud Times