Midwest Democracy Network Questions
Presidential Candidates on Reform Issues

September 11, 2007

Midwest Democracy Network

Today the Midwest Democracy Network (MDN), an alliance of reform organizations in five states, called on presidential candidates to explain their positions on a variety of campaign and government reform issues.

"Voters deserve to know where candidates for our nation’s highest office stand on issues fundamental to the health of our democracy” said Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, one of the groups in the Midwest Democracy Network. “Our next president will have a special responsibility for safeguarding democracy at home and ensuring that our system is a model for other nations."

The MDN presented the full field of presidential candidates with a questionnaire covering federal campaign finance regulations, ethics and lobbying laws, federal communications policy, voting rights and congressional redistricting. Questions include whether, if elected, they would:

  • work to enact legislation to strengthen, maintain or repeal presidential public financing;
  • support ongoing federal funding to improve the conduct of elections in exchange for better information from state and local election administrators on how they are administering elections; and
  • support federal legislation prohibiting states from redrawing valid congressional districts more than once a decade.

"Americans can find out without much difficulty where the presidential candidates stand on the War in Iraq, health care and the environment," Common Cause in Wisconsin director Jay Heck said. "It is more difficult for voters to determine where they stand on key issues related to our democracy. This questionnaire seeks to put this important information in the hands of voters."

Seasoned political analysts believe that ethics in government was a decisive issue in the 2006 elections. A USA Today/Gallup poll released on October 10, 2006 found that 86% of voters rated corruption in government as extremely or very important to their vote in last year’s congressional elections.

"Scandal-weary voters want to know how their candidates will address questions related to governmental ethics," said Andrea Kaminski of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. "The candidates should tell voters how they would reduce the influence of campaign contributors and promote elections that are secure, accurate, recountable and accessible. Let’s compare their positions side-by-side."

The MDN is an alliance of 20 civic and public interest groups based in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Candidates have been asked to submit their completed questionnaires by October 15. Their unedited responses will disseminated nationally through media outlets and a network of civic organizations.

The partners in the MDN by state are:

Illinois Campaign for Political Reform
Sunshine Project
Illinois PIRG
Common Cause Illinois
Citizen Advocacy Center
League of Women Voters of Illinois
Better Government Association
Protestants for the Common Good

Michigan Campaign Finance Network
Common Cause Michigan
League of Women Voters of Michigan

TakeAction Minnesota
League of Women Voters of Minnesota
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Ohio Citizen Action
League of Women Voters of Ohio
Common Cause Ohio

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
Common Cause in Wisconsin

Further documentation (all links are to pdf files)

Presidential QuestionnaireBackground Paper