Project Vote Smart

Role in the Landscape

This is part twelve in a series of posts that will explore some of the leading organizations from around the country that are engaged in unearthing and combating the influence of money in the political process.

Project Vote Smart (PVS) is a transparency/data organization with a vast collection of data on candidates and incumbents. Their website, http://votesmart.org/, allows users to search at the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative levels.

Contact Information
One Common Ground
Philipsburg, MT 59858
http://votesmart.org/
(888) 868-3762

National Director
Kristen Vicedomini
kristen@votesmart.org
(406) 859-8683

Resources they Provide

Voting records: shows how lawmakers voted on the issues; http://www.votesmart.org/official_five_categories.php?dist=voting_category.php

Biographical & contact information: contains contact and biographical information for federal and state political candidates, including previous professions, education, families, and organizational memberships; http://www.votesmart.org/official_five_categories.php?dist=bio.php

Issue positions: contains responses from candidates based on a questionnaire, the Political Courage Test. Issue areas include: abortion; budget, spending, and taxes; campaign finance and government reform; crime; education; employment; environment; gun control; health issues; poverty; and legislative priorities; http://www.votesmart.org/official_five_categories.php?dist=npat.php

Interest group ratings: summarizes evaluations from over 150 interest groups, from conservative to liberal; http://www.votesmart.org/official_five_categories.php?dist=issue_rating_category.php

Public statements: contains speeches and public comments from lawmakers; visitors can type in a word, like ‘immigration’ and all public utterances containing the word ‘immigration’ will appear; http://www.votesmart.org/official_five_categories.php?dist=speech.php

Campaign finances: contains summary information for federal races with links from the Center for Responsive Politics (opensecrets.org) and links for statewide races from the National Institute on Money in State Politics (followthemoney.org); http://www.votesmart.org/official_five_categories.php?dist=finance.php

Judicial branch: contains biographical information and opinions for judges and justices at the Supreme Court, courts of appeals, and district courts; http://www.votesmart.org/resource_political_resources_judicial.php?section=supreme

CongressTrack: provides copies and status of key legislation; http://votesmart.org/issue_keyvote.php?state_id=NA

Publications: PVS produces two major publications, The Voter’s Self-Defense Manual and the Reporter’s Source Book. The Voter’s Self-Defense Manual contains summary information about Members of Congress and is updated every two years in time for each general election. The Reporter’s Source Book contains an overview of major national issues and a directory of sources useful to journalists such as issue organizations, think tanks, academic experts, and federal agencies; http://votesmart.org/program_publications.php

Ballot measures: containing descriptions of state ballot measures, including the complete text, sponsors, and election results; http://votesmart.org/election_ballot_measures.php

External websites: widgets and an API (application programming interface) are made available for bringing data from http://votesmart.org/ to other websites; http://votesmart.org/services_widgets.php and http://votesmart.org/services_api.php.

Money in Politics series

  1. Money in Politics (introduction)
  2. Looking Beyond Campaign Contributions
  3. National Institute On Money In State Politics
  4. Center For Responsive Politics
  5. MOOSE: Monied Out-of-State Executives (case study)
  6. Public Campaign
  7. Common Cause
  8. MapLight.org
  9. Sunlight Foundation
  10. Good Jobs First
  11. Disinfecting Banker’s Day on the Hill (case study)
  12. Project Vote Smart
  13. Hitting the Jackpot (case study)
  14. Democracy North Carolina (case study)
  15. Connecticut Citizen Action Group (case study)
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