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

Project Vote Smart: Experience and Lessons Learned

2013 March 07

Vote Smart exists to help citizens and organizations trying to provide citizens with easy access to abundant, accurate, relevant information about those who govern or those who wish to replace those who do.

To that end, a Voter’s Self-Defense System was envisioned, a system that provides citizens with detailed applications of employment for each elected official or candidate. Information in these applications focuses on six basic categories:

  • Biographies

  • Voting Records

  • Issue Positions

  • Special Interest Ratings

  • Public Statements

  • Campaign Finances

Data collected is provided in four basic ways:

  • Website (

  • Toll-free Voter’s Research Hotline – 888-VoteSmart

  • Various publications – Voter’s Self-Defense Manual, U.S. Government Owner’s Manual, Reporter’s Source Book, On Common Ground

  • VoteEasy: An interactive data visualization

Board members join with a political enemy and understand that no funds will be accepted from any organizations lobbying for a cause or supporting or opposing any candidates.

Over 400 staff members and almost 8000 interns and full-time volunteers have committed from 2 weeks to 2 years to collect, maintain and distribute the data over the past 20 years. They now work primarily at a research headquarters (the Great Divide Ranch) in the Montana Rockies, and at offices affiliated with the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas-Austin.

Important Statistics

In 2012, 90% of Vote Smart’s record $1.3 million dollars in contributions came from 25,784 supporting citizens and organizations dependent upon Vote Smart data.

The Vote Smart website had 7.3 million unique users during the ...

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