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Media

January Common Ground E-Newsletter

28 January 2013

More Ways to Connect!  #socialmedia

At the start of the day in the office, headphones abound, filling our ears with music and morning news. Except for the occasional ring of the phones and the tapping of keyboards, quiet reigns. By the time the sun clears the mountains on the east side of the Great Divide Ranch, the staff and interns of Project Vote Smart have already been at our desks for close to two hours, answering the phones, sending emails, and diligently checking, re-checking and updating the information on the Project Vote Smart website.
 

If you are familiar with Project Vote Smart and the information we provide to American voters, chances are that you have connected with us through one of the three aforementioned methods: calling our Voter's Research Hotline (1-888-VOTE-SMART/1-888-868-3762), emailing your questions or comments to us at comments@votesmart.org, or by logging on to votesmart.org to surf our information for yourself.
 

But did you know that there are many more ways to get in touch with us? For example, Project Vote Smart is active on Twitter!  While the only birds we've seen lately are the wild turkeys that wander the ranch, there is still plenty of Tweeting happening in the office. Our handle is @VoteSmart, and signing up to receive our Tweets will keep you tuned in to our information on special elections, legislative wrap-ups, and lots more. You can also keep track of our doings on Facebook. The Project Vote Smart page includes photos of life out here on the ranch, details about the various tools and types of information votesmart.org has to offer, and even employment opportunities. If you prefer Google as a social medium, you can also follow Project Vote Smart on Google+.


We display all these various ways to connect with Project Vote Smart in a tool bar across the top of our website, but what those icons don't tell you is that we love to hear from you! Working and living in such a small community, we spend a lot of time together and have a lot of fun, but it's always refreshing to connect with people in different places around the country. We believe that providing factual, nonpartisan information about your elected officials and current legislation is critical to sustaining democracy in the United States, and we'd love to know how you use the information we happily and proudly provide.


Did you use contact information on our web site to write to your representative? Post about it on our Facebook page! Are you looking for information that isn't currently available on our site? Send us an email! Did you find a particular detail in your representative's biography fascinating? Chances are, we did, too—Tweet our way. At its core, Project Vote Smart is a customer service company, and we'd love to hear from you, our customers and members, how we're doing. We invite you to help us transform our relationship with you into a dialogue. You know where—and how--to find us!


Emma Clohessy

Intern, Project Vote Smart
 

New Staff Profile: Michael Mowry 

A new addition to Project Vote Smart at the start of this year was Michael Mowry, who joined the Research Department to focus specifically on Speeches and Public Statements. Mike is from University Park, MD and attended St. John's College in Annapolis, majoring in Philosophy and the History of Mathematics and Sciences.
 

Mike has experienced Vote Smart from a couple of different perspectives, (he finished a 10 week internship here at the end of last year), and we liked him so much that we invited him back permanently! He spent time researching biographies and issue positions, staffed the Vote Smart Hotline, and even helped install our lovely new wood burning stove, which was no simple feat!
 

Of his time at the Great Divide Ranch as an intern, Mike said, “I did some hiking, skiing and took some trips with fellow interns and staff. Life on the ranch is great; we eat well, have game nights and movie nights. I even had my first moose sighting recently.”
 
Starting in his new position as a Research Associate, Mike said Vote Smart's mission is what drew him to apply for an internship, saying, “I'm looking forward to experiencing the full political discourse in our country”. Like many of us, Mike said that when watching the news at home, he too often feels that unbiased and reliable information is out of reach, and that's what makes Vote Smart unique - conscientiously researched and non-partisan information is at the heart of the Vote Smart mission.


When talking about projects on the Vote Smart horizon, Mike is particularly excited about Galaxy, which aims to make our data even more accessible. “Working on the project itself will be challenging and interesting, but once it is finished, our database will be an incredible tool and a unique documentation of our current political landscape”.


If you or someone you know is interested in an internship or a permanent position here at the Great Divide Ranch, then make sure to check votesmart.org regularly for updates and information.

A Message from Richard...

It was a bit awkward, but it was a live program and what else could I have done. I simply leaned over and gently shook the anchorwoman’s shoulder. Her eyes opened. “So how did Vote Smart get started?” she asked, now for a second time.
 

Some people get excited when I tell them about Vote Smart, even cheer and sometimes hand me checks on the spot after seeing our little video. But with some, civics is a bore and so it was with the sleepy TV reporter assigned to interview me.

I was reminded of this story in a good meeting with the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, who kindly advised me to make my points a little sooner and not be so certain that people understood what I was talking about.

Vote Smart simply focuses on the people. Most foundations are concerned about campaign finance issues, voter suppression or fraud or simply making sure citizens know where there voting booth is. But from where I stand not much can happen without the consent, (either willful or in ignorance) of the 112,000,000 voters who voted. As important and troubling as the issues related to voter suppression or fraud are, it appears meager when sized up to the 112 million citizen’s campaigns have learned to control emotionally rather than move intellectually. That manipulation, in an environment denuded of truth, is where the greater tragedy lies -- and where Vote Smart works with those citizens aware enough to know how important truth is to all of us.


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