Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Project Vote Smart educates UIS

By Courtney Westlake

Project Vote Smart rolled onto the UIS campus on Tuesday morning, making a stop from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of Lincoln Residence Hall to encourage members of the campus community to learn about the project and about making the best possible choices when it comes to voting in elections.

Project Vote Smart, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization, has been in existence for about 16 years, but only about 10 percent of the public is aware of it, said Tony Boehm, a project representative. Members of the project are traveling around the country on a bus to raise awareness, currently moving through the Midwest before heading west to California at the end of January.

"We basically try to educate voters on all issues, all candidates, all elected officials," Boehm said. "We feel the more that people are educated, the more they'll know about the issues and not be influenced by the media and candidates' negative campaigns."

The project has a tie to UIS through Dr. Anthony Sisneros, associate professor of public administration at UIS who also serves as an adviser to Project Vote Smart. This was a major factor in the bus having the opportunity to stop on campus, Boehm said.

The Project Vote Smart bus holds a small movie theater that can fit 22 people. Those interested in learning about the project are shown an introductory video and given a tutorial of the Project Vote Smart Web site. There are computers available for students to explore themselves or Project Vote Smart representatives can showcase the site and its features via a projection screen.

Project Vote Smart is also toting along a giant, inflatable ball with the American flag, on which people can sign or write a short message to politicians.

"We're taking it everywhere we go and delivering it to Washington before the election," Boehm said.

To learn more about Project Vote Smart, call 1-888-vote-smart or go online here.