If you love and value facts, you should be excited about this announcement. Vote Smart, one of the nation’s premier non-partisan political research organizations, opened their new headquarters at Drake University on Monday. Vote Smart President Richard Kimball said they had looked at 17 schools before selecting Drake University as their new national headquarters. This is a significant boost to Drake University’s growing reputation as a center for political research. Drake currently houses the political archives of both former Governor Robert Ray and Senator Tom Harkin.
Bringing Vote Smart to Drake enhances central Iowa’s pivotal role in political relevance and public policy. If Iowans needed more evidence of the importance of their state’s first in the nation political status, add this prize to the list. Kimball pointed to Iowa’s position as the epicenter for presidential political campaigns. He said they weighed that status into their selection process.
Vote Smart was established by Kimball in 1992 with the help of former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. Their mission is to provide free, factual and unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to all Americans. They have accumulated detailed information on over 40,000 federal and state candidates. That data includes voting records, backgrounds, issue positions, campaign contributions, interest group ratings and public statements of those political candidates.
Vote Smart will bring an initial 23 new jobs, but more importantly, will add 60-70 intern positions for students. These coveted internship opportunities aren’t limited to Drake students. They will be open to students at other local colleges and universities in central Iowa as well. Iowa has benefited from its politically prominent role by serving as magnet for students and others interested in politics and public policy. Vote Smart locating at Drake will add to that attraction with its emphasis on political research.
In the new Trump world of fake news and alternate realities, an organization devoted to fact based research is of critical importance. Vote Smart’s press release focuses on their research potential:
“Yes—facts matter—or at least they should. A ‘fact’ implies certainty, it answers a specific question and should help us form our opinions. Unfortunately, in the age of fake news, bias, spin, anecdotes, and cherry-picking, the line between what is real, what is an opinion, and what is simply a lie is frustratingly blurred.”
“But we need Iowa’s help. Vote Smart moved to Des Moines to be at the starting-line each election cycle. If you are ready to stand up for political transparency by arming yourself with facts, visit our website (www.votesmart.org). You can learn how to use our tools to bring the facts back to Iowa.”
Drakes President Marty Martin attended the Des Moines launch and welcomed the new partnership with Vote Smart.
“Drake’s new partnership with Vote Smart is extraordinarily beneficial for everyone involved, to include the students, who will benefit from numerous in-depth applied learning experiences,” said Drake University President Marty Martin. “We are proud to welcome Vote Smart to Drake and central Iowa, and we look forward to working together to advance our shared core commitment to transparency, education, and voter literacy.”
In addition to the website, Vote Smart offers a toll free Voter’s Research Hotline (1-888-VOTE SMART) and a free Voter’s Self-Defense Manual. They will soon be introducing a mobile application as well.
by Rick Smith