Center for National Independence in Politics

aka Vote Smart   |   Des Moines, IA   |  www.votesmart.org

Mission

Vote Smart is dedicated to providing accurate, abundant, and relevant information on candidates, incumbents, and issues free of charge, while also upholding the highest standards of accuracy, balance, and integrity of any information gathered or shared. The organization will maintain a strict non-partisanship in both our data and programs by: (1.) Only accepting funding only from private citizens and foundations without corporate ties. (2.) Maintaining a review and approval process established and conducted by our Founding Board, which must remain balanced across the political spectrum. (3.) Relying on the commitment of volunteers, interns, and staff members willing to accept minimal compensation as the primary source of labor.

Ruling year info

1988

Principal Officer

Mr. Richard Kimball

Co Principal Officer

Walker McKusick

Main address

1153 24th St

Des Moines, IA 50311 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

85-0364261

NTEE code info

Voter Education/Registration (R40)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (R05)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (B05)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2020, 2019 and 2018.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

When was the last time you saw a candidate stand up in front of the American public and say something of substance that you felt you could actually trust? Or heard a campaign promise you could believe? Instead of shaking your fist at the television, check out Vote Smart – a non-profit with a huge civic conscience. Vote Smart is creating a spin-free zone that any citizen, liberal or conservative, can come to for unbiased facts on more than 40,000 candidates and incumbents.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Research

Vote Smart devotes considerable effort to researching information about all candidates for Presidential, Congressional, Gubernatorial, and State Legislative office and elected officials. This includes voting records, biographical and contact information, issue positions, interest group ratings, public statements and campaign finances. One of many ways this is done is through a political courage test which asks candidates which issues they will support and oppose. Voters thus have access to unbiased information on candidates as well as those serving in elected positions. Much of this research is done by volunteers and project interns who spend 10 weeks at the project.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Once information is thoroughly researched and substantiated, Vote Smart takes it directly into communities. This is done through: 1. A strong website where a comprehensive database on officials can be easily accessed. 2. Partnerships with libraries to disseminate information. 3 A voter's research hotline which can be called to access information. 4. Publications are available include a "Voters Self Defense Manual". 5. Significant resources made available to political journalists to help in fact checking and background for stories. This includes "The Reporters Source Book" which provides a concise overview of major national issues as well as a contact directory for hundreds of sources.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Vote Smart is the nation's defender of self-government guaranteed to every citizen by the Constitution of the United States. We believe, as James Madison once wrote, that "a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy...and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." Vote Smart is dedicated to a mission of providing this knowledge to all American citizens as an essential resource for the protection of informed self-government for generations to come.

A non-partisan research center, Vote Smart collects factual information on over 40,000 candidates and officials—presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, state legislative, and judicial. Vote Smart compiles candidate issue positions, campaign contributions, biographies, voting records, public statements, and evaluations done by special interest groups, as well as ballot measures and how to register to vote. It is a virtual one-stop shopping center for political information; accessible free of charge on the web at www.votesmart.org, by calling the toll-free Voter's Research Hotline (888-VOTE SMART), and in a free publication called the Voter's Self-Defense Manual. All you need to know to get the facts on your officials is your zip code and the issues that concern you.

Vote Smart will accomplish its mission by:
- Providing all citizens with accurate, abundant, relevant information on candidates, incumbents, and issues free of charge whenever they have a question or concern;
- Upholding the highest standards of accuracy, balance, and integrity of any information gathered or shared;
- Maintaining strict non-partisanship in both our data and programs, through a review and approval process established and conducted by our Founding Board, which must remain balanced across the political spectrum;
- Accepting funding only from private citizens and foundations without corporate ties;
- Relying on the commitment of volunteers, interns, and staff members willing to accept minimal compensation as the primary source of labor in gathering and sharing this information;
- Using all available public information channels (i.e., electronic, telephone, print, media, public libraries) to disseminate the information gathered.

During the spring and summer of 2018, Vote Smart's staff and volunteers were hard at work researching the facts on over 40,000 politicians ahead of the November elections. They started with candidates' biographical profiles, information so accurate that it is used nationwide by organizations like Google, NBC, and the Department of Defense. They researched politicians' up-to-date statements: our database now has almost 1.2 million keyword-searchable speeches. They collected ratings from over 1,500 special interest groups; several major groups were researched via a new, automated process to keep their information current in our database. Staff added voting records and summaries on almost 1,000 pieces of legislation nationwide to our database of 15,000 key votes. Eleven million users took advantage of our online tools during the 2018 election, in addition to the millions more who were introduced to our data through our partners. That was 1 million more users compared to the 2016 presidential cycle. Most of the traffic came during election season: 3.7 million users visited during October and November 2018. People spent more time on our site this cycle: on average, a user spent 5 minutes on our website this election cycle. Many of these people were new visitors, too. Our online systems were well-prepared for the major increase in web traffic during the election and delivered these important resources to voters without a hitch. The IT team released our new mobile application, OnPoint. This tool allows Americans to track what their politicians are saying and doing about the issues that matter to them. We were able to release this application ahead of the 2018 elections. We are currently developing a fact-check tool called BULL. Any time a user looks up a politician, and that politician has been found to have deceived voters by one of our fact checking partners, we will put the BULL logo in their profile with the number of lies these organizations have identified for that specific politician. We hope to release this tool in summer 2019, well ahead of the presidential election in 2020. We are all excited to bring the facts - ballot measures, public statements, special interest group ratings, key votes, and more - right to Americans' fingertips.

Financials

Center for National Independence in Politics
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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Center for National Independence in Politics

Board of directors
as of 4/12/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jessica Arrigoni

No Affiliation

Jessica Arrigoni

No Affiliation

Richard Kimball

No Affiliation

Kyle Dell

No Affiliation

Susan Brandes

No Affiliation

Lucy Benson

No Affiliation

Bill Clinger

No Affiliation

Adelaide Elm

No Affiliation

Dan O'Neill

No Affiliation

Brent Steel

No Affiliation

Jon Trachta

No Affiliation