Organization provides voting info to students

Uninformed voters have a chance to be educated today. Project Vote Smart will be on campus today to provide information about politicians and candidates.

Project Vote Smart is a non-partisan political research organization that formed in the early 1990s. The idea came from a group of people who felt voters were not getting the whole truth from politicians, said Mike Wessler, media director for Vote Smart.

“Some people didn’t like the way politics were going in the country,” Wessler said. “They felt voters were being manipulated.”

The organization will be at the Flag Plaza, across from Memorial Coliseum on the Avenue of Champions, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. Presentations start on the hour and half hour.

For the past 16 years, Vote Smart has been working on a “Voter’s Self-Defense System.” The program offers access to information about candidates such as biographical information, voting records and campaign finances. Wessler said voters need access to those materials to make informed decisions at the polls.

“It’s a dangerous thing when voters are uninformed,” Wessler said. “Vote Smart focuses on giving out unbiased facts and information.”

The stop at UK is part of the kick-off for the recently completed Voter’s Self-Defense System. Vote Smart is hoping to reach college students because of the important part they play in political activism, Wessler said.

“College students are somewhat the backbone of political activism across the nation,” he said. “A lot of college students have never voted before, especially in a presidential election. Students need to know where they can get informed and know where candidates stand on the issues that affect them.”

A mobile training unit will allow interested students the chance to watch a short film about the project, Wessler said, and laptops will allow students to take a look at the Vote Smart Web site ( Wessler said the information his organization provides should help give voters a better understanding of current politics.

“People can be extremely intimidated by the political process,” he said. “We have staff members there to help.”