The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Political Ignorance as a Preference

2016 October 07

Voting smart can require enormous effort or minimal effort, but to vote smart takes effort.

Enormous effort is applied by less than 1% of the public. Usually they are political scientists, lobbyists, some reputable journalists or even political hacks working as opposition researchers, all paid for such effort.  They start by finding reputable sources that provide factual information untainted by interpretation.  This is almost always found at government sites or within the public records and reports often required by law, along with a few news or academic sites that capture facts not otherwise documented, such as public statements, endorsements, biographical details or the salacious peculiars that expand their audience.  These sources require hundreds of hours, which few citizens have.

Modest effort is applied by 10% of the public, using trusted sources that capture factual records and present that data in easy to digest concise reports related to each voter’s unique concerns.

Ignorance is the preference of almost 90% (221 million) of our potential voters. It takes no time other than that to be entertained by the enormous variety of popular political preachers telling citizens who’s at fault and who’s to blame for the trouble they see.

Richard Kimball

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Presidential Pardons in 2016

2016 October 05

 On Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016, President Obama granted clemency, forgiveness of a sentence, to 214 incarcerated individuals, 67 of which were serving life sentences in federal penitentiaries. This raises some questions about what clemency actually entails. Clemency, under the US Constitution, allows the President to grant pardons and commutations to federal prisoners.

Wait, Are Salamanders Voting?

2016 September 28

 The topic of redistricting elicits reactions from all sides because its effects are heavily felt in elections; no party wishes to be disadvantaged due to district lines. Conflicting interests continue to seek a balance between majority power, geography, and the concept of fair elections.

Ballot Access Laws

2016 September 20

How did these candidates get on the ballot? Why are they in particular on the ballot, while others who may have been running don’t appear? For that matter, how do the candidates of the two major parties get on the ballot? The answers to these questions depend on your state’s ballot access laws.

“Blue Lives Matter” Bills

2016 September 14

On May 26, 2016, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law HB 953, or what media outlets are dubbing the “Blue Lives Matter” bill. The first of its kind, HB 953 prosecutes crimes against law enforcement and other first responders as hate crimes, increasing their penalties and punishments.

Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

2016 September 09

 Widely considered the most significant financial regulatory reform since the Great Depression, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) instantly became a debated political battle in Washington.

State Legislatures’ Reactions to Mass Shootings

2016 September 02

 Gun control will continue to be an emotionally charged topic as mass shootings are a major driver of the conversation.

Campaign Finance: Free Speech, or Another Platform for Corruption?

2016 August 31

 Each year, as billions of dollars are funneled into American elections, more and more questions continue to rise regarding not only the legality of these financial contributions, but also the true intentions behind them.

Legislative Activities: Renewable Energy Sources

2016 August 26

Use of renewable energy sources is definitely a contentious issue in some states, with some passing legislation, and other states’ governors taking things into their own hands and signing agreements having to do with energy.

Daily Fantasy Sports Regulation in State Legislatures

2016 August 18

Daily fantasy sports is a concept that is as tricky to say as it is to understand.  It exists in a legal gray area that has remained unregulated for years.  Recently, after several scandals that brought widespread public attention, legislators have attempted to define and regulate the practice.  

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