Voters to Directly Ask Candidates Questions in Upcoming November Elections Interactive Website Gives Voice to Residents in 11 States – Knight Foundation

Voters to Directly Ask Candidates Questions in Upcoming November Elections Interactive Website Gives Voice to Residents in 11 States

NEW YORK – Voters in 11 states are now able to directly ask candidates about the issues they care most about – and have them answered – through, an interactive online platform created by the Personal Democracy Forum.

The site is partnering with the largest media outlets and blogs in each community to spread the word and solicit questions for the November elections. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is funding the effort.

The top-level goal of the 10Questions experiment is to fundamentally alter the culture of political debate in America, to definitively move it away from glorifying sound bites over substance. 

“Providing constituents a direct, unfiltered voice in the political debates will result in a more responsive, robust democracy for all,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder and president of the Personal Democracy Forum.

Between now and Sept. 21, voters will have their say. Then the top 10 user-rated questions from each race (minus ones that are obscene or inappropriate) will be submitted to the relevant candidates. They will in turn have until Oct. 14 to post their replies. After that, the public will be asked vote on how well the candidates answered.

“Televised political debates can often devolve into political theater, with the audience watching passively and with little chance to ask follow up questions or express an opinion. The format demonstrates that technology can invigorate debate and engagement around critical questions,” said Eric Newton, Knight Foundation’s vice president for journalism. is one of several Knight-funded digital media projects aimed at residents interested in the upcoming election. The foundation has also supported Sunlight Foundation’s Politiwidgets, which makes it easy to insert information on lawmakers into blog posts, and Patchwork Nation, which will analyze demographic data by Congressional districts.

The 2010 midterms edition of covers 46 of the most competitive races across the country, in 11 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Major media partners include The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Detroit Free Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Albany Times-Union, plus many more in each state.  Politico and PBS’s Patchwork Nation are national media partners.

The platform is built to reward substantive and thoughtful questions as well as responses. In addition, there is no time limit to the responses from candidates as they directly explain their positions to the voters.

The site is also designed to allow voters, instead of the media, to drive the conversation. The platform also enables any website or blog to embed the full functionality of the 10Questions experience via

Both California Senate hopefuls Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, and Carly Fiorina, a Republican, have already committed to participate, in addition to other candidates across the country.

As Dr. Ami Bera, a Democrat running to represent California’s Third Congressional District and a participant in 10Questions, recently said, “Now is not the time for the politics of division, but for a clear exchange of ideas on how we move forward as a region, state and nation. Interactive media presents a great opportunity to open a dialogue about the issues Americans face every day.”

10Questions’s was first deployed in the 2007 presidential primaries, with the New York Times, MSNBC and other national media partners. 

About Personal Democracy Forum

The Personal Democracy Forum (PdF) is the leading non-partisan organization in the field of politics and technology, having launched its annual conference exploring the impact of technology on politics in 2004. Since that time, PdF has grown steadily, expanding its conference offerings to include international events and building its online presence as an industry resource for those operating in the world of political technology, further solidifying its reputation as a thought leader in the field and the go-to resource for analysis.  In 2007, PdF launched its award-winning techPresident blog, featuring a seasoned and crosspartisan team of internet campaigners blogging about how campaigns are using the web and vice versa. techPresident won the Knight-Batten Award for Innovation in Journalism that year. The blog tracks trends in how campaigns are using social media, as well as how ordinary citizens and activists are using new technologies to insert their voices and concerns into the political process.  Personal Democracy Forum’s mission is to be the resource for the practitioners in politics and advocacy that already espouse or seek to understand the new opportunities created by technology and social media.  We aim to be the place to discover the tools powering the new civic conversation, an authority on new trends, and a place to share in understanding and embracing this dynamic new force.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit

Contact: Marc Fest, Vice President of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677; [email protected]

Daniel Teweles, VP of Pdf, Project Manager – 10Questions. 616-446-9407; [email protected]