Sunday, October 22, 2006

See What They Think

Who are you going to vote for? If you’re like me, you want to know who you’re supporting. So, here’s some resources to look at before you’re standing in the voting box with a pen clasped between two shaking fingers…

#1 The Indiana Family Institute has a voting guide available here. They asked insightful questions, and some candidates responded.

#2 See the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) website here. The NFIB is self-characterized as "The voice of small business." This site offers you a way to contact the candidate, and shows their background. If they have previously held office, it shows their voting record on slected business-related legislation.

#3 AdvanceAmerica has a voting record that shows how IN senators and representatives have been voting on some key issues. Click here.

#4 The National Organization for Women (NOW) has voting recommendations here. In Indiana, the NOW PAC (Political Action Committee) recommends Julia Carson (U.S. Congress District 7) and Sue Errington (State Senate District 26). Seeing who is doing the recommending may influence how you vote, if either of these candidates are on your ballot!

#5 Project Vote Smart has set up a website that shows how votes have been cast on various bills. As an example, a list of the Representatives are their votes on the bill "Information on Pain and Anesthetic for a Fetus" (HB 1172) is given here.
There is also an incredible volume of information available for candidates. For each candidate, there are the following links: Biographical, Issue Positions(NPAT), Campaign Finances, Interest Group Ratings, Voting Record, Speeches and Public Statements. The "NPAT" is the "2006 Congressional National Political Awareness Test." For example, they show the stance of incumbent Richard Lugar here. All of the Indiana Congressional candidates are listed here.

These are the questions asked by IFI:
1. Education – Should parental choice be expanded through tax credits or vouchers to allow children to attend any public, private, religious or home school?
2. Education – Should parents be allowed to home-school their children without additional state regulation?
3. Education – Should Indiana public school students be given mental health screenings?
4. Education – Do you support tax payer funded full-day kindergarten?
5. Health – Should embryonic stem cell research be legal in Indiana?
6. Health – Should physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients be legalized?
7. Gay Rights – Should government mandate that private business offer “domestic partners” (cohabiting homosexual individuals) the same health care and
employment benefits as married couples?
8. Gay Rights – Should civil rights law should be changed to protect an employee’s sexual orientation in the same way as race, religion, age, gender and ancestry are protected.?
9. Gay Adoption – Should the State of Indiana allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children?
10. Marriage – Should Indiana add covenant marriage as a voluntary option, which would require counseling before marriage, counseling before seeking a divorce, and a more stringent marital contract?
11. Marriage – Should the Indiana Constitution be amended to state that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman?
12. Abortion – Should abortion be prohibited by law, except when the life of the mother is in danger?
13. Abortion – Before having an abortion, should a woman be given written information stating that life begins at conception and that her baby can feel pain in the womb?
14. Taxes – Should the state increase taxes in order to provide more services?
15. Taxes – Should Indiana take steps to phase out and/or replace its property tax system?
16. Gambling – Should taxpayer money go towards subsidizing the gambling industry in Indiana?
17. Pornography – Should existing laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of obscene materials be aggressively enforced?

Here are the candidates responses for the IN Secretary of State race (Joe Pearson, the Democratic candidate, did not respond):

Mike Kole (L) Y Y N N Y Y N Y Y N N N N N Y N N
Todd Rokita (R) Y Y U U N N N N U Y Y Y Y N Y N Y

In Mr. Rokita's case, I'm wondering when exactly he will decide on questions three, four, and nine. As it is, I agreed with his stance on all but the issue of full-day kindergarten (#4) and adoption by homosexuals (#9). It is interesting to see the marked difference between Kole's views and Rokita's views! Does anyone out there have an insight in question #3 on mental health screenings?

I looked closely at the Republican candidates' positions. I would have looked closely at the other candidates' responses, but in the U.S. Senate, Secretary of State, Auditor of State, Treasurer of State, U.S. Representative, and State Representative races, there was a problem. While five of the six Republicans responded to the IFI survey, none of the four Democrats responded, and only one of the three libertarians responded. That made comparisons rather difficult. The one thing I did appreciate was that the candidates who responded at least considered the IFI survey worth their time.

The disagreements I had with Republican candidates are shown below:

Richard E. Mourdock (Treaurer of State) -- He is undecided on whether or not the state should increase taxes to provide more services. How about allowing citizens to decide where their own money goes?

Tim Berry (Auditor of State) -- He supports fullday kindergarten, and is undecided on the question of homosexual adoption. Plus, he gave no response on the phasing out of property tax.

Todd Rikita (Secretary of State) -- He is undecided on the issue of homosexual adoption, and he is also undecided on whether fullday kindergartens should be implemented or not.

Jim Buck and I agreed 100% on the questions shown above.
A slightly different set of questions was asked to U.S. Senators and Representatives. Dan Burton and I agreed 100%, though I didn't fully understand what one question on making tax legislation since 2000 permanent was driving at.
Jeff Drozda and Mike Pence (who represent others in Indiana) agreed, as well.

The questions posed to the Indiana Judical Candidates by IFI were:
1. Which of the following former U.S. Presidents best represents your political philosophy?
John F. Kennedy / Jimmy Carter / Ronald Reagan /George H. W. Bush
2. Which one of the current Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court most reflects your judicial philosophy?
Roberts / Stevens / Alito / Scalia /Kennedy / Thomas / Souter / Ginsburg / Breyer
3. Rate your judicial philosophy on a scale of 1-10 with originalist being a 10 and a living document approach being a 1.
4. Do you support / oppose / undecided a judge’s display of the Ten Commandments in his or her courtroom?
5. Should the code of Judicial Conduct for judges include protection of people on the basis of sexual orientation (Ind. Code of JudicialConduct, Con. 3, §3(5))? Y / N
6. What organizations in the last 10 years have you: been a member of, contributed money, volunteered time, been employed by, been endorsed by for a campaign, received money from for a campaign or had any other affiliation?

None of the judges that I have the opporunity to vote for (Sullivan, Friedlander, Kirsch, and Riley) responded to this survey.

Can I tell you what I find most ironic? I found Vote Smart -- which has the most information on the state and federal candidates –- as a link from the Planned Parenthood site. Of all places to find it! Their NPAT asks the candidates question related to:

Abortion Issues
Budgetary, Spending, and Tax Issues, Part 1: Budget Priorities
Budgetary, Spending, and Tax Issues, Part 2: Defense Spending
Budgetary, Spending, and Tax Issues, Part 3: Taxes (A)
Budgetary, Spending, and Taxes, Part 3: Taxes (B)
Campaign Finance and Government Reform Issues
Crime Issues
Drug Issues
Education Issues
Employment and Affirmative Action Issues
Environment and Energy Issues
Gun Issues
Health Issues
Immigration Issues
International Aid, International Policy, and Trade Issues, Part 1: International Aid
International Aid, International Policy, and Trade Issues, Part 2: International Policy
International Aid, International Policy, and Trade Issues, Part 3: International Trade
National Security Issues
Social Security Issues
Technology and Communication Issues
Welfare and Poverty Issues
Legislative Priorities

The NPAT also includes personal comments from the candidates. I would highly recommend looking at this site, because some people who did not respond to the IFI survey did participate in the NPAT.

The Advance America gives the quickest overview of the votes that have been cast in the Indiana House and Senate, the IFI voting guide shows some of the differences between the candidates who chose to respond, the business website gives you glimpse of their personalities and views of business, but the Vote Smart site includes information on people who did not respond to other surveys (case in point, current senator Lugar who incidentally has held his current office since 1976.)

What I found when I scanned through Lugar's responses on the NPAT surprised me. I've listed some of the items I found pertinent as either "pro" in my view, or "con."

Lugar prohibits public funding of abortions, he's pro-vouchers, and he's in favor of establishing English as a national language. There are other topics that Lugar and I agree on. But, there's also the...

Lugar believes abortions should be legal if the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape. He provided no answer to the question, "Do you support a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman?" He's in favor of increasing the minimum wage, and he is in favor of maintaining or strengthening the current level of gun restrictions. Not only does he support stem cell research on existing cell lines, he is also in favor of allowing new stem cell lines to be developed for further research. He is in favor of developing a program to allow illegal aliens to work here legally.

I realize that my options here are limited; there are only two candidates for U.S. Senate. But because I do not agree with Lugar's stance on many different issues, I cannot in good conscience vote for him.

Ahhhh. I'd hoped to fill out my ballot tonight. But the fun has only begun! I still have practically no information on the county and township races. Maybe I'll finish it tomorrow! Good night!

No comments: