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

Developing Instantly Gratifying Data-base Visualizations

2013 March 08

Data Visualizations - Background


For over a decade Vote Smart worked at various methods of building the Voter’s Self-Defense System. During this process Vote Smart received a great many very flattering commendations (see What they are Saying). However, the focus was always on completing the system, and completing the system meant having compiled detailed applications of employment on thousands of candidates whether they cooperated or not.


We thought we had accomplished this goal in 2002 and made plans to officially announce our success, but setbacks delayed this.


Congressional Quarterly pulled the plug on our Key Votes Division. We rebuilt it. Then it became apparent that the major political parties had effectively dismantled our ability to acquire useful issue positions by convincing candidates not to provide those issue positions in a meaningful way for fear of opposition research. So we researched and provided their positions for them.


In 2008 we finally had the entire system up and operating and spent close to $1 million in full-page newspaper ads and a 45,000 mile national tour to deliver the Voter’s Self-Defense System to the country. What better way, we thought, to conquer misinformation and tortured truth than our immense database of abundant, accurate, factual information on those seeking to represent us. It would now be up to citizens to use it, to flock to it. But they didn’t.


Although heavily used by political scientists, journalists, political activists and opposition researcher we were only able to reach 12.5% of the American public. That left 87 ...

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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.

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