"Just The Facts"
Headed, as we are, towards a Presidential Election we might be excused if we took a hiatus from the media to escape the brawl of conflicting and, frequently misleading, ads. To make informed choices, we need factual information. We need just the facts. When we're armed with facts, we can formulate our own opinions.
Where can we go for just the facts, no commentary, about candidates and issues? Project Vote Smart, a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational organization providing what it calls "the voter's self-defense system" has amassed biographies, voting records, issue positions, ratings, speeches, and campaign finance information on federal and state candidates, ballot measures, issues, and legislation. The information is free and available on-line and in print format.
The Voter's Self-Defense Manual serves as a starting point, containing a sampling of Vote Smart’s online database. The manual provides data for all Congressional members and is available by download or in print by calling 406.859.8683.
The best way to access what Project Vote Smart offers is on-line where Vote Easy allows visitors to select an issue and find out how candidates compare. View data on political courage, voting records, interest group ratings, and campaign contributions. Search by name of candidate, zip code, or keywords.
With its Political Courage Test, Project Vote Smart asks candidates to provide their positions on key issues. Interestingly, and sadly for voters, most refuse or respond only partially, fearing their answers will be used by their opponents in attack ads. On-line, candidates are identified by "shows courage" and "lacks courage." The positions of those who lack courage are inferred from public records. Visitors can click on "view public record" to verify the sources of inferred answers.
At Project Vote Smart, "conservatives and liberals join together to defend our right to the truth." The Indianapolis Star says it “may be the most useful voter information project in the country. USA Today calls it "heaven for political junkies." We support this nonpartisan gathering and sharing of data that encourages citizens to research candidates and issues and make informed decisions when voting.