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August E-Newsletter

30 August 2012

Get ready to VoteEasy

Every election since 1992 we've asked candidates to let their potential constituents know where they stand on issues. And every election since 1992 we've had fewer and fewer candidates respond. The more money the candidates receive, the more able they are to control their messages, which means voters are less likely to hear their positions on the issues, all the issues. So, beginning in 2010, when a candidate decides to leave voters in the dark, we're now bringing their positions to light.

While we always allow a candidate to speak for themselves, if they choose not to, we're now doing the research necessary in order to provide voters with their candidates' issue positions. Our staff, interns, and volunteers spend countless hours for every single presidential and congressional candidate, researching their past public statements and speeches, looking over their voting records, and checking interest group ratings. Every time we make a determination on someone's position, about whether they're pro-choice or pro-life or whether they support government spending to create jobs, we check those determinations 6 times to make sure we're making the right call. Six checks on dozens of pieces of data for over 1,000 candidates can take a lot of time, that's why we're proud to say our hard work is starting to pay off.

Right now voters in Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska can see their congressional candidates on our award-winning VoteEasy tool. As we finish up research and allow candidates in certain states a chance to respond, we'll be putting up more candidates as we get closer to the election.

With VoteEasy, all you have to do is answer questions about where YOU stand on issues, and we'll match you with the candidates that are most like you. It makes what would otherwise be hours of research on every candidate a painless exercise. You can even rate how much each issue matters to you the most to fine tune your results.

We always encourage anyone running for office to answers the questions directly, and we encourage you to get involved and ask your representatives to take our test. We also encourage you to do the research yourself using the tons of information on votesmart.org, but we understand that not everyone has the time to research every position on every candidate. With all the different information you have to look at, Voting Smart can be hard. So take some of the pain out of political research and use VoteEasy for this election.

Wondering when your state's going to be on VoteEasy? Sign up for email updates at votesmart.org/voteeasy and click on the “Stay Informed” button at the bottom of the page.

Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Schuck from Bellingham, Washington

How did you find out about Project Vote Smart?

I expect that an address exchange brought me a cold solicitation some 10 years ago. I responded with a donation and an increasing interest. My May, 2004, move from North Carolina to Washington allowed me to visit their Ranch headquarters in Montana for a night stay. That afternoon and next morning I helped with a mailing inside their office, and was hooked. I returned for a standard 2-week working Member Volunteer Internship later that summer and have been back every year since.

Why do you volunteer with Vote Smart, year after year?

Therapy! The solitude of the Ranch allows me to step back from the details of daily life to relax and contemplate bigger pictures. This is particularly applicable to the current money-driven American political discourse, which is increasingly focused on noise rather than light, passion rather than information, stubbornness rather than compromise, and invectives rather than facts. PVS provides a verdant oasis in an increasingly arid political landscape.

What would I tell others about the importance Project Vote Smart?
 
Vote Smart merits your attention.
  1. Use their website at votesmart.org and get familiar with its offerings, then use them.

  2. Send money. Vote Smart is powered by a incredibly motivated staff and volunteers, who do amazing work on a shoestring budget.

  3. Visit their research headquarters at the Great Divide Ranch in southwest Montana and volunteer your time. You'll be glad you did.

For more information on becoming a member of Vote Smart or volunteer opportunities call us at 1-888-VOTESMART or visit us online at votesmart.org/volunteer

Making Smart Voting as easy as possible

Despite the fact that many people pay little attention to their candidates until the months, weeks, or days leading up to an election, Project Vote Smart works year-round to make sure that voters have the information they need to make an informed decision on election day.

We now have less than 70 days until the 2012 election, and our staff, interns, and volunteers are working tirelessly to make sure that voters in every state have access to information on who their candidates are, how they can be contacted, and where they stand on the important issues of the day. Each week, we literally add thousands of new speeches, position papers, biographies, and interest group ratings to our database in an effort to make smart voting as easy as possible for anyone interested in basing their decision on the facts.

Whether you've been preparing for the 2012 election since November 2010 or are just now tuning in, Vote Smart is your answer to the incivility, spin, and rhetoric that will almost certainly dominate the airwaves in the coming months. Visit votesmart.org, enter your address in the search bar, find out who is running in your district, and start preparing yourself for November 6th. It will be here before you know it!

What your support does...

“As an intern with Project Vote Smart this past summer, each day I saw first-hand how the small contributions from citizens all over the country go on to make the innovative technologies we use at votesmart.org possible. Their support also gave myself, and 40 other college student interns, the opportunity to live and work at Vote Smart's Research Headquarters in Montana for 10-weeks where we dedicated 400 hours inside their office providing factual, unbiased information on your candidates and elected officials. I feel beyond fortunate to have worked alongside such like-minded individuals who have dedicated their time and efforts this election year to make politics less complicated and more honest. To our current members, I believe I speak for every intern, staff, and volunteer here when I say thank you for helping to make Vote Smart and my experience here possible.”

- Hillary Stallings, Syracuse University

For more information on becoming a contributing member of Vote Smart please call us on 1-888-VOTESMART, or visit us at votesmart.org/donate.




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