Smith is a nationally recognized expert on direct democracy, campaign finance, and voting rights in the American states, and is co-author of a leading textbook, State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform. His research is motivated by furthering our understanding about how political institutions affect political behavior across and within the American states, with a particular focus on ballot measures, voting rights, and election issues. In addition to his influential books on direct democracy (Tax Crusaders and the Politics of Direct Democracy (Routledge, 1998) and Educated by Initiative (University of Michigan Press, 2004, with Caroline Tolbert), he has authored or coauthored more than 50 scholarly articles and book chapters on the politics and processes of voting and elections in the American states. In addition to his academic research on American political institutions and political behavior, he has worked extensively in West Africa, serving as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ghana. He is a frequent media contributor and speaker to nonprofit organizations, has advised governments (including the U.S. Senate) and non-governmental organizations on direct democracy, voting rights, and electoral issues, and has served as an expert on numerous voting and election-related lawsuits. He is also the President of ElectionSmith, Inc.