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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students tracking candidates

    History junior John Bray, front, and Leah Durnin, a political science senior, research bills passed by the state Legislature for Project Vote Smart yesterday afternoon.
    History junior John Bray, front, and Leah Durnin, a political science senior, research bills passed by the state Legislature for Project Vote Smart yesterday afternoon.

    With the 2008 election season in full swing, handfuls of UA students are doing their part to give voters objective information on each local and national candidate.

    Project Vote Smart opened its UA office in January 2007, and since then, the number of programs and staff has tripled.

    Students working as interns perform most of the facility’s research. The interns presently number close to 40, said Johnny Cruz, director of media relations for the UA.

    Some of their tasks include gathering speeches and public statements made by 2008 presidential candidates and collecting records for every vote made by every state legislator in the country.

    “”It’s very labor-intensive,”” said Mia Ibarra, director of the UA’s Vote Smart office, 1130 N. Helen St. “”We track public statements, press releases for those that appear and don’t appear on television.””

    Richard Kimball founded the project in Tucson in 1992 as a means of collecting thorough information on candidates across the United States.

    The crown jewel of Project Vote Smart is its Voter Self-Defense System, which includes information on more than 40,000 elected officials and political candidates.

    We track public
    statements, press
    releases for those that appear and don’t appear on television.

    – Mia Ibarra,
    UA director,
    Project Vote Smart

    Available via votesmart.org, its purpose is to help guide voters through the rhetoric and misinformation political campaigns are saturated with, Ibarra wrote in an e-mail.

    With 18 workstations, interns usually work nine hours per week and are limited to only one semester of participation. Those who excel, however, are allowed to return to the program, Ibarra said.

    Former interns have gone on to work in Washington, D.C., she said.

    Vote Smart is currently accepting applicants for the fall, and will be recruiting for the fall after spring break, Ibarra said, adding that individuals of any major are encouraged to apply.

    “”You just have to interested in the political process,”” she added.

    The Project Vote Smart National Tour bus will be on the UA Mall, near the intersection with North Cherry Avenue, on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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