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Accountability Tool Helps Voters Navigate Political Fact, Fiction

The OnPoint app is intended to allow voters to quickly access free, factual and unbiased background on political candidates and issues. (Niek Verlaan/Pixabay)
The OnPoint app is intended to allow voters to quickly access free, factual and unbiased background on political candidates and issues. (Niek Verlaan/Pixabay)
November 15, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – If the lines between fact and fiction in politics seem to have blurred, a decades-old nonpartisan organization says it can help with what it describes as an accountability app.

The group Vote Smart makes a stop next Tuesday in Des Moines as part of a tour of civic centers, libraries and schools, to let voters know about the free app, called OnPoint.

Walker McKusick, Vote Smart's national director, says the app allows the user to quickly access facts about politicians and various issues.

"You can look at their votes, what they're actually doing about these issues particular to the people that represent you at the state and federal level,” he explains. “You can look at ratings, what special interest groups are saying about those politicians, for groups that care about government budgets."

McKusick says Vote Smart believes the most essential component of democracy is access to information.

The OnPoint app features clickable icons for various issues, including guns, federal education standards, climate change and allegations of Russian interference in elections.

Next Tuesday, Vote Smart will be showing off the technology at Drake University Law School in Des Moines.

McKusick notes that one of the ways Vote Smart remains nonpartisan is by refusing financial assistance from all organizations and special interest groups that lobby, support or oppose any candidate or issue.

"We were founded by President Carter, President Ford, Goldwater and McGovern – these pairs that try to protect us by balancing each other out,” he explains. “Our board today still has to have those political opposites on them."

Vote Smart's board members, financial reports and audits are available on its website, McKusick says, to help ensure voters that it prioritizes transparency and truth.


Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - IA