Stateline Story

New Report Faults State Election Websites

Iowa got the highest marks and New Hampshire the lowest in a new 50-state analysis of state election Web sites that finds most of them fail to provide the kind of easily accessible information voters need, such as where and when to vote and what will be on the ballot.

"Voters are turning to the Web with basic questions about how to cast their ballot. And our study shows that state Web sites need to do a better job in meeting those needs," said Michael Caudell-Feagan, director of Make Voting Work, which joined forces with the Internet usability firm Nielsen Norman Group to measure the effectiveness of state election Web sites.

Make Voting Work is a nonpartisan project of the Pew Center on the States, which is also the parent of Stateline.org

The analysis found, among other things, that:

  • Only 38 states appear as the first search term when searching for "voting in [STATE NAME]" on popular search engines such as Google.
  • Thirty-four states have a poll locator tool, while 26 states allow voters to check their registration online. 
  • By not improving their sites, states are missing an opportunity to save money on voter telephone help lines-up to $100 per call.

States that scored highest in election Web site usability were Iowa, Texas , Utah , Pennsylvania and New Jersey . The five states with the lowest grades were New Hampshire , Mississippi , Illinois , Connecticut and New Mexico.

The analysis, "Being Online Is Not Enough: State Elections Web Sites," includes recommendations for improvements and provides details about the Voting Information Project , a joint effort of state and local election officials, Make Voting Work and Google Inc. VIP aims to bring official voting information-polling place locations, ballot content and information about registration and absentee ballots-directly to voters via the Internet.