About Smart Voter

Smart Voter (http://www.smartvoter.org) was inaugurated for the November 1996 election and was the first Web site to offer personalized election information based on a voter's address. Designed to help voters understand their choices better, Smart Voter offers extensive background information on many candidates in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

How this information was gathered

The underlying information required to generate personalized ballots was gathered from the Registrars of Voters of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. See the Project Disclaimer for more information.

All information about candidates was gathered from the candidates themselves via electronic mail.

Message to Candidates

If you are a candidate for the June 1998 primary and are running in a county that will participate in the Smart Voter project, we will send you a letter a week or so after the filing closes detailing how to submit information for your free web page.

Unique Collaboration

Smart Voter is the result of a unique collaboration between government, nonprofit organizations, and media. The Smart Voter Project Team, led by the League of Women Voters, coordinated the project based on technology and procedures originally developed by Smart Valley, Inc for the November 1996 election. The League of Women Voters of California authorized a steering committee of League members who designed the project, hired a project manager and programmer/webmaster, coordinated the volunteer effort to gather information from candidates, and worked with project partners to publicize and add content to the site supporting the November 1997 local elections.

Warren Slocum, San Mateo County Registrar of Voters, continued his involvement with our project, assisting with the customization of the ballot software and providing data about races and measures in San Mateo County. Dwight Beattie, Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters also provided the official data about races and measures in Santa Clara County. The California Voter Foundation advised Smart Valley on project design.

Our charter media partners, KQED-FM, the San Jose Mercury News, and the San Mateo County Times are helping us advertise our services. These two online newspapers are making their election news coverage available via the Smart Voter site.

Most news coverage of local races are found in our local newspapers. This year we are partnering with and providing links to specific articles in these newspapers: The Cupertino Courier, Los Altos Town Crier, Palo Alto Weekly, and the Sunnyvale Sun. Additionally, we thank the Los Altos Town Crier for providing additional computer services for some photo processing.

Key Features

The Smart Voter site allows users to find their custom ballot and polling place by entering their street address and zip code. Users may access "home pages" of each participating candidate that include their biography, endorsements, top priorities if elected, and position papers. Every candidate in the November 4 elections in the two counties was invited to participate. The Contest "home pages" include links to relevant news or analysis articles written by online local media organizations.

The League of Women Voters Education Fund

This site is sponsored by the LWVEF, a nonpartisan public policy educational organization, which:

  • Builds citizen participation in the democratic process.
  • Studies key community issues at all government levels in an unbiased manner.
  • Enables people to seek positive solutions to public policy issues through education and conflict management.

The League never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.

Elections and the Internet

The Internet is ideally suited to help voters educate themselves about political candidates and ballot propositions. Accessible on demand, the Internet can dish up information three weeks or three hours before an election. Users can access information in more or less depth, depending on their interests. As the Smart Voter site demonstrates, web-based databases can help voters to pinpoint the relevant election contests and the Internet can play host to public forums focused on controversial election issues.

The public is increasingly interested in using the Internet to learn about candidates and elections. A recent AT&T poll of 1,000 people found that more than 65% of respondents were interested in using the Internet to research where candidates stand on issues. (Investor's Business Daily, Aug. 26, 1996) With a higher percentage of technology-literate citizens than California as a whole, Silicon Valley is the natural place to prototype the next generation election web-site.

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Copyright © 1997 League of Women Voters of California, Smart Valley Inc.