Project Vote Smart and WSU Launch Partnership to Aid Citizen Literacy

PULLMAN, Wash. — Project Vote Smart, the nationally recognized, nonpartisan voter
education group, and Washington State University are launching a new partnership aimed to aid
both American voters and the education of WSU students.
WSU political science and journalism faculty will work with Project Vote Smart on three key
publications, including the Voter’s Self-Defense Manual, and also on the group’s National
Political Awareness Test. WSU students will have opportunities for full-time, 10-week
internships with the organization at its new retreat center in western Montana. The University of
Idaho endorsed the partnership and U of I students will also be eligible to participate in Vote
Smart internships.
“With the Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, the Murrow School of
Communication, the Political Science department and the Honors Program, WSU will be a
substantial and meaningful partner for our work in voter awareness and education,” said Richard
Kimball, executive director.
“We are very pleased to be working with Project Vote Smart on projects that help Americans
understand the political process and vote with greater knowledge of issues and candidates’
positions,” said Lance LeLoup, chair of WSU’s political science department and interim director
of the Foley Institute. The institute honors Ambassador to Japan Thomas S. Foley, the long-time
U.S. congressman from Eastern Washington and former speaker of the house.
LeLoup said he sees opportunities for both students and faculty working with the
nine-year-old organization founded by a group of well-known U.S. senators and representatives
and other national leaders. Founders include Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, Mark Hatfield,
Bill Bradley, Geraldine Ferraro and many others.
Project Vote Smart started as a research project in 1990. The basic premise of the
organization was this: “Would citizens defend themselves from the mudslinging, issueless
tactics used by political candidates to manipulate them?”
Over the years since then, hundreds of volunteers and student interns have worked through
PVS to give Americans a key tool for citizenship in a democracy that is “abundant, relevant
information on those who govern us, or wish to replace those who already do,” according to
LeLoup and Susan Ross, WSU journalism professor, have been named to a Project Vote
Smart advisory committee. In upcoming months, they will review early drafts and provide advice
on the Vote Smart Yellow Pages, the Reporter’s Source Book and the Voter’s Self-Defense
Manual, as well as the National Political Awareness Test.
The full-time student interns working at the Vote Smart headquarters would receive
scholarships funded through a Hearst Foundation grant to cover their room and board.
“Project Vote Smart is a national leader in voter education, and the PVS web site has been
ranked No. 1 in usefulness for voters by the American Political Science Association,” LeLoup
said. “This alliance will provide excellent public service activities both for the political science
department and the Foley Institute. We’ll have a chance to make a difference in the electoral
Looking ahead, LeLoup and Kimball see opportunities for the partnership to expand,
including establishment of some Project Vote Smart offices on WSU’s Pullman campus. This
would open up additional opportunities for part-time internships for WSU students and more
chances for faculty involvement.
Each is optimistic about the new partnership and looks forward to expanding their
partnership even further after the 2000 elections.