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 10questions.com. 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: http://snlg.ht/9na1Wn.
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.