Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Media

Blog

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

Common Ground e-Newsletter: What have we been up to?

2017 October 16

  

Defying the Odds


As I spend more time at Vote Smart, the work of our students, volunteers and staff continues to wow me. I’ve only known a fraction of the 9,000 people that have created this bulwark for democracy over the past 30 years, but those that I have known impress me day in, day out. I’ve also only had the opportunity to meet a handful of you that support us and to show you the work we now do at our Des Moines research headquarters; I’d like to show more of you!

Visitors may have a sense of what we do—but they are always surprised by how we do it. The attention to detail we provide on 40,000 politicians each election cycle and every legislative session is a unique endeavor. The fact that this work is done by young and old from left and right across the country on this common ground makes it more than unique; it defies the odds.

So, what have we been up to? Let me give you a glimpse, and let me brag a little, on what and who you’ve supported at Vote Smart. After all, without you, we can’t build this self-defense system that every American needs.

WalkerHS.jpg

Walker McKusick

Vote Smart National Director


What Have We Been Up To?


During the spring and summer of 2016, Vote Smart's staff and student volunteers were hard at work researching the facts on over 40,000 politicians ahead of ...

Read More

Tags:

Tags

More Posts

Political Research Wrap-Up: Politics as usual?

2017 October 09

 The White House and Capitol take on immigration, budgets, and taxes as we approach crucial off-year elections in November. Read on for a glimpse at some of our most recent key research.

Notable Public Statements:

  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) views the National Anthem protests as Un-American. Read full statement➤

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) statement after the Trump administration declared their intentions to end the DACA program. Read full statement➤

  • Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote a letter to President Trump urging for additional federal assistance to Puerto Rico. Read full statement➤

  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) on the resignation of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price Read full statement➤

  • Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) following the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of the GOP tax reform framework. Read full statement➤

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) following the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of the GOP tax reform framework. Read full statement➤

  • President Donald Trump discussed tax reform at a recent event. Read full statement➤

  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) pitched tax reform for middle class families in a recent interview with Face the Nation. Read full statement➤

Alabama Primary Runoff Endorsements

2017 September 25

 See who has endorsed the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Alabama before tomorrow's primary runoff.

Unconventional Elections in America

2017 September 22

Did you know that you may have to vote again in your primary if no candidate gets more than half the votes? If not, you may want to find out if this applies to you.

For example, there’s been such a close race for Jeff Sessions’ vacant Senate seat in Alabama that the Republican primary in August did not determine a winner. A primary runoff between the top two Republican candidates, Roy Moore and Luther Strange, is scheduled for September 26.

In over 115 races that Vote Smart has already tracked in 2017, we have encountered other unconventional election practices that voters may not be aware of. Earlier this month, Mississippi held a nonpartisan primary election for its State House Dist. 102 seat that will be determined by a runoff election in October.

Most Americans participate in a first-past-the-post system where winners in primaries and general elections are decided by a “plurality”—the candidate with the most votes wins. Several cities and states across the nation, however, have adopted alternative election methods. Read on for a brief explanation of the unique election practices that are currently used at the state and federal levels.

Political Research Wrap-Up: Not much of a recess for Congress.

2017 September 11

 While Congress was on recess, discussion over hurricanes, white supremacists, and North Korea kept them from enjoying it. Read our full Research Wrap-Up to catch up on what you may have missed.

 

Rising Tensions with North Korea: A Timeline

2017 September 05 - Alejandro Ortiz

From "fire and fury", to "locked and loaded", and most recently "All options are on the table", the President has had some tough and controversial words for Kim Jong-Un and North Korea after several Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) tests and now a hydrogen bomb test. Some critics worry that these words have worsened the rising tensions with North Korea; other critics simply worry that Twitter may not be the best outlet to issue these statements. Those who defend him feel that Trump’s words should reflect North Korea’s actions.

While members of Congress have debated the President’s statements, sanctions on North Korea have been strongly supported in both the Capitol and the White House in 2017. Following nuclear tests, the death of Otto Warmbier, and sanctions on North Korea, we’ve seen that tensions between the US and North Korea have only continued to snowball.   


This snowball has been rolling for far longer than 2017, however--while Americans threw literal snowballs celebrating New Year’s Day, Kim Jong-un issued a statement about his nuclear plans--setting the tone for the rest of the year. Skip forward 6 months and several missile tests and we arrive at another holiday--the 4th of July. As Americans launched fireworks in their backyards, North Korea celebrated by testing its first ICBM.


To visualize the series of events that followed, we have compiled a timeline below outlining the rising tensions between the US and North Korea since the launch and the statements made and actions taken as a result.

Did the Senate vote to repeal Obamacare?

2017 July 27 - Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz

On July 25, your social media feed was likely filled with victory cries from those seeking to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the still-evolving Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Opponents also took to social media with messages of defeat. However, the debate is anything but finished.


So what’s actually going on with the Senate healthcare bill? Is the Affordable Care Act repealed? And, what is the Senate voting on?

Well, it’s tricky, so bear with me—I’m not even sure if someone currently voting in the capitol can easily explain where the debate stands. I’ll simplify the issue and provide a brief timeline of how we got to where we are today.


Political Research Wrap-Up: Republicans win five of the seven races in June, Trump talks foreign policy.

2017 July 10

 Republicans win five of the seven races in June, seats remain virtually unchanged. President Trump talks foreign policy.

Is it a Muslim Ban?

2017 June 27 - Alejandro Ortiz

Many voters don’t like to read–I’ve probably lost those voters already. Politicians use titles and labels to steer the conversation in whatever direction they choose–think Trumpcare vs. Better Care Reconciliation Act. This was no different with the President’s “Travel Ban.” Because many are unlikely to read the executive order, the labels and titles attached to it have a lot of influence into its perceived impact. Is it a Muslim Ban? A Travel Ban? Or extreme vetting?

After several roadblocks, the Supreme Court has, by a unanimous decision, allowed part of the “Travel Ban” (formally titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States) to go into effect. Since its inception, this executive order has received criticism for its restrictions that would limit entry from certain predominantly Muslim nations to the US.


Trump Announces US-Cuba Relations Changing Once Again

2017 June 19 - Alejandro Ortiz

 “Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.” These were the opening lines of Barack Obama’s announcement of his plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba back in December of 2014. Those words could have also opened President Trump’s speech on Friday where he announced plans to roll back some of the changes set forth by the Obama administration.  
 

“We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime,” President Trump proclaimed, ”until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled. Elections.”

 

These plans come just weeks after the bipartisan coalition consisting of US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced legislation that would lift the Cuban trade embargo.

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top