October 23, 2008
Pew Report Finds Voters Cannot Easily Locate Information in State Election Websites
The Pew Center on the States has released its report Being Online is Not Enough: State Elections Web Sites, a 50-state analysis of election websites' usability and finds that voters cannot easily locate voting information online. The report offers recommendations to improve state websites before Election Day.
Some of the study’s key findings include:
- The average usability score for election Web sites in the 50 states and the District of Columbia is 58 percent—ranging from a high of 77 percent (Iowa) to a low of 33 percent (New Hampshire);
- When using popular search engines such as Google, only 38 states appear as the first search term when searching for “voting in [STATE NAME]”; and only 34 official state Web sites appear as the first search result when users enter in their state name with “polling place”;
- Thirty-four states have a poll locator tool, but only 11 states will identify a polling location for any address in the state—helping voters to easily find the basic information they will need to vote;
- Half the states including the District of Columbia (53 percent) offer a way for users to verify their registration online; and
- By not improving their sites, states are missing an opportunity to save money on voter telephone help lines—up to $100 per call.
The report also introduces the Voting Information Project, a joint effort of state and local election officials, Make Voting Work and Google, Inc., that aims to bring official voting information—polling place locations, ballot content and information about registration and absentee ballots—directly to voters via the Internet. [JH]
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