Ask the question about transparency that you’ve always wanted


10 Questions Ever get tired of hearing pundits ask softball questions to politicians? Or finally hear a really great question, only to have it answered in a few TV friendly, pre-packaged bullet points that don’t tell you anything you didn’t already know?

Thanks to the work of our friends at Personal Democracy Forum, we don’t have to accept this one way channel of communication. With 10Questions, every American can be a part of the conversation with those running for office this election season. First launched in 2007, 10Questions is “the first truly people-powered online candidate forum that seeks to involve millions of voters in prioritizing the questions they want answered, and moving politicians away from sound-bites to in-depth discussion of issues.

For the 2010 midterms, 10Questions is being rolled out again for many of the most competitive races across the country. It’s a simple process, open to anyone across the country. To participate, just submit a question (deadline: September 14th). Then, vote the questions submitted up or down (voting ends September 21st). The top 10 questions are submitted to candidates, and by October 14th, candidates will post video responses to those questions on Afterward, there’s another open voting period in which you decide how well you think candidates actually answered the questions, so they have an incentive to be thorough and thoughtful in their answers.

This is a particularly great opportunity for those of us in the transparency and open government movement; while transparency is crucial to keeping our elected officials accountable, candidates rarely field questions about open policies. If you haven’t yet, submit a question about transparency, or head over to vote to make sure that candidates have to explain how they’re going to make their administrations open.

Transparency is a pretty broad issue, so if you’re looking for ideas or resources to help formulate a more specific question, check out this collaborative guide to some of the work being done in this field:

Let us know your question in the comments, or highlight any that you think are particularly great.

Note: The co-founders of the Personal Democracy Forum, Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry serve as advisors to the Sunlight Foundation.

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  • @George Ashford- have you done a background check on clint lovell?

  • Ultimately God will judge all our transparent or covered acts.

  • I asked several of the US senate candidates from CA:
    1. What action(s) can the Senate take to reduce predicted effects of climate change and/or lead preparations for the changes in lifestyle that will be required?
    2.Your position/record on issues of ‘net neutrality and regulation of all communication media: TV, Internet, Radio, Phone, Wireless, Traditional paper (newspapers, magazines, etc)
    3.What domestic policies can the federal government address more effectively than state, county or local governments (or even NGOs)? Why? Which do you consider most important?
    4.What legislation (in its final form) disappointed you the most or failed to live up to its potential in the worst way? Can it be fixed? Would you support automatic sunset provisions for all legislation?

    Thank you for bringing the 10 questions site to my attention!

  • I asked one question of the gov candidates from CA: Your views on corporate citizenship, esp. the ratio of state revenue from corporations vs. individual income taxes; the comparative proportions of income paid in taxes (relative to overall income) by each & rights and responsibilities of each.

  • Cathy

    Why do we have a federal tax system that either punishes or rewards our actions or our behavior? that’s not the object of tax collection. I want to see a correlation between minimal federal taxes collected from EVERYONE and money spent in Washington. I want Congress to stop social engineering via tax policy. How do we take the power and money away from Washington and give it back to the citizens?


    My Questions:

    Where can I go to find out the JOB DISCRIPTION for the American president, and each of our governmental bodies (Senate, Congress, House of Representatives, etc)……

    I ask this because I believe the American people need to make sure our employees in government are actually doing their appointed jobs. And we need to know who to blame when they drop the ball.

    One reason I’m interested in the above is because I want to know exactly who is to blame for our BUDGET and SPENDING and other important decisions, (since the Constitution seems to lay the responsibility on the Congress rather than the president, yet the president gets all the blame).

    What is the name of the website that tells people who voted for what? And what their Political Party affiliation is?


    Hiring the disabled:

    As far as hiring the disabled, GOODWILL Industries, (a not-for-profit company), has, (in the past), been the largest employer of the disabled (as far as I can tell). Yet when I recently donated some items to Goodwill – I didn’t see ANY disabled employees. Why?

    Why should ‘for-profit’ employers be forced to hire the disabled – when the disabled clearly are not able to be as productive as the non-disabled employee. Not being as productive – means the employer would loose money….

    GOODWILL Industries has a main office and Thrift-stores in every city but maybe they need to be re-convinced to continue hiring the disabled. . .


    Sorry, but not ALL businesses pay the required amount of taxes. Why? Because States and/or Counties give them TAX BREAKS to open their business in that State or County. . . Many don’t pay taxes at all – for many years. These deals are made for the sake of JOBS to the area. . .

    But what this does is create a tax shortfall for the State or County and in turn taxes need to be raised from the actual working people !!!

  • ParisArkie

    Why isn’t Arkansas on your list? Is this a forum just to promote Democrat candidates and the Democrat adgenda?

  • I would like to know of all U.S. Senatorial candidates;If it came down to your vote, would you repeal the 17th Amendment?

    Back in 1913, it was promoted as a move that would bring more governmental power to the people. The truth however is that it provided a security that allows a Senator to not act in the best interest of there State without fear of being recalled.

  • john mccann

    Tell me why our brilliant congress can not do this? It is neither a Republican idea or democrat.


    All businesses in America are in business to make a profit and all businesses that make a profit pay taxes.

    Businesses have a large pool of individuals to choose from when hiring.
    The person with a disability often will be overlooked because the business has no real incentive to hire someone who may need multiple services to stay employed. Even with excellent services from numerous federal, state, county, city and private agencies, businesses do not have to hire those who were served by these agencies.
    A great shift in hiring practices could be possible by giving businesses an incentive for hiring persons with disabilities. Suppose businesses were given a “Dollar for Dollar” write off on their federal taxes. For every dollar a business spends on the hiring, training and retaining of a person with disabilities, that business gets to write off “dollar for dollar” spent at tax time. Such incentives to all businesses would create long term employment outcomes which is a goal everyone wants.
    Businesses have had no incentive to partner with schools or agencies to seek out persons with disabilities. Remaining unaware of how to support the disabled person would begin to change. Businesses would seek the appropriate therapies, accommodations etc. because every dollar they spend to hire a person with a disability would be written off when filing federal taxes. Those people with the most significant disabilities would be sought out by businesses as a great challenge and a large tax write off.
    Currently, no such sustainability for persons with disabilities exists.
    If “Dollar for Dollar” were in place, loss of employment would begin to decrease. Development of better supports and technology for persons with disabilities would emerge because businesses now have the incentive to research and develop the necessary services for the disabled person. These businesses may see the opening for marketing such technology to many.
    It is time for the federal government to look at the businesses where all people want to work and give those businesses the incentives they deserve. Give businesses the incentive to seek, hire, train and retain persons with disabilities. Businesses know what they need to be successful. Businesses know the work force they require. Businesses know how to wisely spend dollars to get the best services they need to support their employees. Businesses would seek and find the expertise to help provide and support the needs of any disability.
    No one could argue against business doing such a great thing for those with the most significant of disabilities while enhancing their own business process. The significant advances in techniques and technologies adapted for this population would perhaps benefit the masses that are aging.

    By John McCann

  • George Ashford

    You want transparency, have you read the FIX by Clint Lovell?