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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Project Vote Smart on the Offensive in Defense of the National Political Awareness Test

Every election, Project Vote Smart sends out its questionnaire - the National Political Awareness Test (NPAT) - and every election they begin to place editorials in various papers expressing their outrage and sadness that so many candidates and elected officials are simply throwing the questionnaires in the trash. This editorial in the Sun-Sentinel, while seemingly lacking attribution, is almost certainly from Project Vote Smart.

The truth is, I have always recommended that candidates not fill out the NPAT. Despite, the fact that candidates can provide longer form answers, the NPAT's questions are too black and white, and are as likely to be a source of opposition research - allowing opponents to take answers and remarks out of context. As a result, I also tend to thank my lucky stars when I find out that our opponent has filled one out.

None of this is to say that Project Vote Smart is not a valuable resource for voters. A group of idealistic and underpaid young people on a ranch in Montana work tirelessly to research candidate across the country and they should be commended for their work. However, when remarks appear in local newspapers, criticizing (not usually, but occassionally by name) your local candidates for not filling out the NPAT, take it with a grain of salt.

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