“Am I registered to vote?” “Where is my polling place?” “What’s on my ballot?” These are common questions voters routinely ask before heading to the polls and casting their ballots. But easily finding answers to these questions depends, to a large extent, on whether their state election agencies are providing information and tools on their websites.
To determine how well states are helping voters prepare to vote, in 2010 the Pew Center on the States launched a nationwide assessment of the 50 states and the District of Columbia’s election websites. The assessment was conducted by the California Voter Foundation and the Center for Governmental Studies, two nonprofits with decades of online voter education experience, and the Nielsen Norman Group, evaluating more than 100 detailed criteria based on three categories: content, look-up tools, and usability.
The new report shows that while many states have made significant improvements, there are still major gaps in providing easily accessible, comprehensive information and tools to voters.
If you live in Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, or Wisconsin, you are in luck. These states’ election websites offer all of the recommended look-up tools applicable to voters in their states: polling place location, registration status, ballot information, absentee ballot status and provisional ballot status.
Voters in these 10 states literally have some of the most important election information at their fingertips – they can go online 24-hours a day, access personalized ballot information, verify they are registered to vote at their current address, find their polling place, and check to see if their absentee ballot has been received or if a provisional ballot has been counted.
But if you live in California or Vermont, getting ready to vote can be much more of a challenge. These two states offer none of the five look-up tools the project assessed.
Overall, the most common look-up tool helps voters locate their polling places – all but two states offer this online service. In fact, the number of states providing this tool rose dramatically between 2008 and 2010, increasing from 34 to 49, with almost universal, nationwide access to this tool going into the 2012 election season.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.