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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Project Vote Smart seeks UA interns for campus office

    Project Vote Smart, a national nonpartisan group, selected the UA from 22 universities to house a new branch office, but only six students have applied for the 50 to 80 internship slots so far, said the organization’s president.

    The problem may be that too few students know about the internships, said Richard Kimball, president of Project Vote Smart, a group dedicated to gathering information so that voters can be well-informed prior to going to the polls.

    Kimball said he hopes a talk he is giving at the journalism department tomorrow will generate more interest among students.

    The UA had to go before the organization’s board when the project was in the process of choosing a new site, he said. The UA had to convince the board members that its students would be able to take on the challenge.

    The project uses interns to gather information on political candidates, from where they get campaign money to how they have voted as elected officials to the names of their pets, he said.

    Students who qualify can earn up to 12 units of credit through either their own departments or through the political science department, no matter their major, he said.

    Qualifications depend on the kind of job to be done, Kimball said. A nervous person will not be likely be assigned to talk to candidates on the telephone.

    A new program will be conducted at the Tucson office, where interns will research political Web sites to see if information about candidates is correct and whether the Web sites are being fair. This information will be put into a database that any citizen can use, much like Project Vote Smart’s “”Voter’s Self-Defense Manual.””

    The organization is “”sort of under the gun”” because it cannot get into the new offices because they are still being refurbished, Kimball said.

    “”We haven’t had a place to interview students,”” Kimball said. The organization has been using a temporary office provided by the university.

    Internships are not only for the Tucson office, but also for the Rocky Mountain retreat in Montana that the organization uses as its base, he said. Though internships can be done at any time of year, the Montana site is most popular in the summer months.

    The site is remote, though it is made virtually closer by 26 miles of fiber optic cable installed just for the project, Kimball said.

    For either internship site, UA students get priority over other students around the nation, he said.

    Interns can expect to talk to some of the approximately 40,000 candidates for political office and navigate the Web to discover the truth about different organizations, he said.

    Most of the public does not realize that some candidates will manipulate them emotionally, which is why Project Vote Smart does what it does, Kimball said.

    The internship gives students the opportunity to participate in giving voters the information they need to make intelligent choices, said political science professor James Todd.

    “”I’m not very optimistic about the future of our republic, but if it survives, Project Vote Smart will be one of the main reasons,”” Todd said.

    Kimball said interns need to support the effort and understand the degree to which some politicians manipulate the public. Basic computer and word processing skills help as well.

    Kimball graduated from the UA in the 1980s with a degree in political science.

    “”I’m glad to be home,”” Kimball said.

    The talk takes place in Room 340 in the Marshall building from 11 a.m. to noon tomorrow.

    For more information on the talk or about Project Vote Smart, students can contact Adelaide Elm at 609-1900 or aelm@vote-smart.org

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