Project Vote Smart, a non-partisan, non-profit voter education organization, maintains the _Vote Smart Web_ to assist journalists, scholars, and citizens obtain objective information on elections, federal and state government, political and social issues, and related information. This resource combines links to existing web sites with the project's original information on candidates and current office holders. This mix provides individuals with data to better understand government and make more informed decisions come election time.
Information gathered for this site appears in eight sections, including a National Political Awareness Test (NPAT). This test is a questionnaire sent to presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial candidates to determine their positions on eighteen important issues. This information is then accessible via the links in the "Your Government" section along with various web and internet sources providing data on the executive, congressional, and judiciary branches of the federal government and state governments.
Data for representatives and senators appears by state, with individual entries containing name, district (for representative,) party, committee memberships, addresses, biographical information, sources of campaign funding, response to the NPAT, performance evaluations by special interest groups, and a voting record abstract. The levels of information for state governments varies, but can include governor's speeches and press releases, directory of state legislatures, bills, election laws, state constitutions, government agencies, state facts and statistics, and other information.
Of timely value for the upcoming presidential election is the "1996 Presidential Campaign" link to information on Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian Parties' candidates. Included are official and unofficial WWW homepages, a calendar of primary caucus dates , and Vote Smart candidate information. Also useful is the "issue Information " section (under construction at time of this review) for resources on different sides of important political and social issues.
The site ends with "Organizations Related to Politics," a directory of WWW resources from across the political spectrum, "education and Reference Resources", "Miscellaneous Political Resources" covering political humor and audio and video clips, and other WWW political information accessible via various web indices such as _Yahoo_, _WWW Virtual Library_, and other resources.
Overall homepage design is quite simple and uncluttered with a single graphic on the main page. Though indices like _Yahoo_ provide access to much of the web political information, it is the combination of access to existing data with original candidate information and research information that makes the _Vote Smart Web_ unique among print and electronic information. All librarians, scholars, students, and the general public will benefit from this valuable resource.
Stephen L. Hupp
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown