The Beginning: Smart Valley, 1996
Smart Voter, first produced for the November 1996 election, covering Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties in California, was the first Web site to offer personalized election information based on a voter's address. Voters in all major elections have praised the site. Read what users said about us. Smart Voter has received international awards.
Smart Voter is the result of a unique collaboration between government, nonprofit organizations, and the media, coordinated and managed by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund. The Smart Voter Project Team coordinates the project based on technology and procedures originally developed by Smart Valley, Inc. for the November 1996 election in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in California. Since then the technology has evolved to support the goal of building each new election in an automated, decentralized way.
1997 - LWV California
In 1997, the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund obtained the rights from Smart Valley to use its design to support upcoming elections. A steering committee of League members designed the project, hired a project manager and programmer, and coordinated the volunteer effort to gather information from candidates. The committee also worked with project partners to publicize and add content to the site supporting major California elections starting in November 1997 through the present. Local and special elections were supported in some counties beginning in 2000.
By the June 1998 elections, we supported 6 counties in California: Humboldt, Kern, Marin, Orange, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. Polling location data was provided for El Dorado County and statewide information for all counties. A software system was developed to enable forms to be used to input data into the website and to generate most of the pages based on template definitions.
For the November 1998 elections, we supported 17 areas: 13 counties in California (El Dorado, Fresno, Humboldt, Kern, Marin, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, and Santa Clara), statewide contests in Arizona, Hamilton County in Ohio, Davidson County in Tennessee, and Snohomish County in Washington.
In 1999, two local elections were supported: San Luis Obispo in March and Davidson County, Tennessee in August preceding the November local elections in 18 counties in California and Hamilton County in Ohio.
In the March 2000 primary, we supported 22 counties including Los Angeles and three more counties in Ohio: Butler, Clermont, and Warren. We supported some Los Angeles local elections in April and June.
In November 2000, Smart Voter offers candidate pages to all state and federal legislative candidates in California and all local candidates in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Humboldt, Kern, Los Angeles, Marin, Orange, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Ventura. 80% of the population of California live in these 21 counties.
In Ohio, we supported all statewide candidates as well as all local candidates in the counties of Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, and Warren.
2006 - Today
In November 2006, we successfully had a pilot project in New York State where we supported all state executive and legislative candidates in all counties. In addition, we supported local candidates in Westchester County. Support continued in 2007 and will in the foreseen future.
Starting with the May 2007 election, we welcomed Delaware County (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. Support for all statewide elections continues through 2008.
The Commonwealth of Massaschusetts and the state of Missouri used Smart Voter to support their statewide elections starting in February 2008.
In November 2008, we were proud to support all state contests and measures for California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania. Local elections were covered in the most populous counties in California, in Hamilton County, Ohio, the St. Louis, Missouri area (several counties), and Westchester County, New York.
For a description of elections and counties supported starting in 1997, please consult our Archives.