vote-smart-logoAn operation that’s considered one of the leading sources of nonpartisan political information is moving it’s headquarters to Iowa.

Vote Smart will be housed at Drake University in Des Moines early next year. Drake President Marty Martin says the move will strengthen Drake’s reputation as a center for political study.

“We are the capital of the Iowa Caucuses and we’re just building on that expertise and experience by inviting Vote Smart to come to Drake,” Martin said. Vote Smart, formerly known as Project Vote Smart, was started by Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter along with dozens of other leaders from both major political parties in 1992. The operation has been run at a very remote location in Montana.

“I visited their ranch in Montana in July. They’re doing a lot of great work, but perhaps they’re not getting the kind of visibility their efforts deserve because of where they are located,” Martin said. The move to Des Moines will bring 23 full-time jobs and generate up to 70 internship opportunities for students during caucus season.

“In normal, other times of the political cycle, we’re looking at 40 to 50 internships,” Martin said. Those internships will be open to students at Drake, other Des Moines-area colleges and universities, and possibly Iowa State University. The Vote Smart website includes logs of political candidates’ speeches, voting records, special interest group ratings, campaign financing sources, and an assessment of candidates’ positions on a wide variety of issues.