SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) — A new Web site was recently formed to help voters decide which of the 2004 presidential candidates lines up most with what they believe.

The Web site, located at presidentmatch.com, is sponsored by Internet service provider giant America Online and Time magazine.

“Can’t decide which candidate to vote for? Searching for more information on a candidate?,” the Web site asks. “Try our decision guide.”

The “decision guide” has two ways for voters to decide for whom to vote in November 2004. The first way is a question and answer section that allows voters to input what they believe about a variety of issues. The second way allows voters to select the candidates they would like to compare using a side-by-side view of each candidate’s beliefs on the issues.

In the question and answer section, voters are asked about abortion, gay rights, religion, gun control, the death penalty, education, homeland security, the war in Iraq, foreign trade, health care, welfare, Social Security, taxes, jobs and the environment.

Toward the end of the survey, the voter is allowed to choose if they would like to include Republicans only, Democrats only, or candidates from either party. In addition, a sliding scale of importance is given to voters who prefer a candidate who has previously held elected office and/or served in the military.

The final question before the results are given asks voters to rank which issues are most important to them using a sliding scale from “no opinion” to “very.” These include social issues, crime/education, security and international policy, benefit programs, and the economy/environment.

The candidates are then prioritized based on the answers provided. A picture of the candidate beside their ranking appears on the screen. It identifies the candidate’s political party, whether he has held elected office and whether he has served in the military. Also, it gives voters a link to compare their top candidates with other candidates side-by-side.

Interestingly, when Talon News entered “no opinion” into the question and answer section while researching for this story, the top candidate listed was former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Nevertheless, every candidate received a 100 percent ranking and were tied for first place.

As for the side-by-side comparison, voters are able to choose between Democrat presidential candidates Dean, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, and President George W. Bush.

Voters may choose any or all of these candidates to see their views on the issues based on past position statements or votes.

Specifics under each of the issues are listed, including “Constitutional Gay Marriage Ban,” “Commandments Displayed in Federal Buildings,” “Privatize Social Security,” and “Raise the Minimum Wage.”

The Web site states that when the Democrat primary elections have ended, it will add the third-party candidates to the guide to complement the Democrat candidate and President Bush.

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