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Vote Smart to celebrate its move to Drake campus

Vote Smart, one of the nation’s leading sources of non-partisan political information, will formally celebrate the organization’s move to Drake University next month.

Vote Smart President Richard Kimball and Drake University President Marty Martin will deliver brief remarks at an opening celebration Monday, April 10. The event is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. in the organization’s new office on the eastern edge of Drake’s campus, 1153 24th St., Des Moines. Visitors will also have an opportunity to view demonstrations of Vote Smart’s powerful database and interactive tools, including a new mobile app.

Vote Smart, a political research organization started by Presidents Ford, Carter, and 38 other political leaders, moved to Des Moines this spring from its former location on a ranch in Montana. The organization was launched in 1992, and in 1995 introduced its website, which provides an encyclopedic log of candidates’ speeches, voting records, special interest group ratings, campaign financing sources, and an assessment of candidates’ positions on a wide variety of issues.

Vote Smart employs 24 staff members and offers internships to as many as 60 students per semester. Current Drake students are already praising the internship opportunities at Vote Smart, saying they’re learning skills they can take back to the classroom and, eventually, to their careers.

Sydney Ford, a first-year student double-majoring in politics and strategic political communication, is assisting Vote Smart’s communications and development staff to plan events, build media lists, and lay the groundwork for future grant opportunities.

“The internship is helping us all to work on our political discourse and dialogue skills and to be able to navigate the field of politics in a way that’s non-partisan and won’t necessarily upset anyone,” Ford said. “Also, I’m the sole communications intern here, and that’s [the field] I’d like to go into. So working in this professional office environment will definitely put me a step ahead for my future career.”

Drake has secured a reputation as capital of the Iowa caucuses through a robust variety of student internship opportunities, presidential candidate appearances and, particularly in the past decade, a number of nationally televised presidential candidate debates.

The University creates myriad opportunities for students, faculty members, researchers, and the surrounding community as home to the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen EngagementThe Principal Center for Global Citizenship; the Show Some Respect campaign for civility in politics; and the archival papers of influential politicians including former Iowa Gov. Robert D. Ray and retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.