Montana-Based Voter Group Removes John McCain from Board

By Beacon Staff

PHOENIX – A voter-education group has kicked Republican John McCain off its board, saying he failed to fill out a political courage test on the issues.

The test by Montana-based Project Vote Smart is a series of questions about candidates’ stances on abortion, defense, taxes and immigration, among others. The nonpartisan organization aims to provide voters with easy access to that information on the 40,000 candidates who’ve taken it.

McCain has passed the test in all of his previous campaigns and was a member of Vote Smart’s governing board, Vote Smart President Richard Kimball said Monday. The only way to fail the test is to not take it, he added.

“(McCain) has always taken it, always been very faithful,” Kimball said. “We were all very disappointed that he chose not to do it.”

Kimball said Vote Smart has seen a slow and steady decline in the number of politicians willing to take the test.

In 1996, when it first started, he said 72 percent of candidates asked to take the test did so. In 2006, he said that number was at 48 percent.

“This is a paraphrasing of Madison, Adams and Jefferson at the Constitutional Convention — liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge amongst the people,” he said. “If the citizens don’t have that out there — they’re stripped of it — we’re turning this into a national crapshoot.”

Kimball said Democratic Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton also failed to take the test, although he said Obama took it and passed when he ran for the Illinois Legislature.

He said candidates often don’t take the test because they fear backlash from rivals.

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