Nan Gao
Dylan Marks
Andrew Peterson
Chester Shiu

CS 201
Stanford University

Political Impact

Introduction | Informative Nonpartisan Websites | Information through e-mail | Campaign Websites | Political Interaction

Informative Nonpartisan Websites: Are Smarter Voters on the Rise?

Especially since the 2000 elections, websites have become an ever-popular method of reaching voters with political information. Fortunately, not all the websites have been sponsored by campaigns that have obvious biases for what information is displayed. Many non-profit, nonpartisan sites have appeared that provide a place where interested voters can get facts and information to make informed decisions on their own. Here are examples of a few such sites:

  • (, which provides national election information

  • Rough & Tumble (, a daily rundown of California politics and public policy

  • EasyVoter (, a how-to guide for marginal or new voters in California

  • The Web site for The North Carolina Center for Voter Education (, dedicated to improving North Carolina’s election system

  • DCWatch (, a political magazine and resource for civic activists in the District of Columbia,

  • The Web site for The League of Women Voters of New Jersey (, which offers a state elections guide

  • E-democracy ( dedicated to improving online democracy and governance and focused on Minnesota politics.

  • X-Pac (, focused on local civic activists and politics in Oregon
There are many websites beyond this list with a similar goal of creating informed voters. However, one of the best examples of such a website is Project Vote Smart at Project Vote Smart started in 1992 and initially relied on distributing pamphlets of information and calling voters to create increase awareness. But realizing the power and ease provided to their organization by the internet, PVS soon channeled their efforts into their website. On the website, Vote Smart has five databases of information for voters’ consideration about candidates for state and federal office. They have basic contact and biographical information, annotated records of critical votes taken by candidates who have held offices in the past, campaign finance information, interest group ratings, and responses collected in a questionnaire called the National Political Awareness Test. This test is sent out to candidates who qualify for general elections and gets simple, short, direct explanations of the important aspects of their respective platforms. Project votes smart is dedicated to reaching voters with the unbiased truth about candidates with the hopes that citizens will come to rely on their website as a place to find which candidate is best for the job and which candidate do their own political ideals match up with.

In his book “Politics Moves Online: Campaigning and the Internet” Michael Cornfield contemplates the idea of websites such as Vote Smart gaining publicity and popularity. He contends, “The result [of many visitors to similar sites as Vote Smart] would be a cadre of smart voters. Some of them might be moved to join the activists who participate in campaigns. Were they to materialize, there would be a basis for a progressive style revolution in American politics.”