Election Websites: Maine
Researchers assessed state election websites for the Pew Center on the States between May-November 2010, using detailed criteria evaluating the content, lookup tools, and usability. Websites may have changed since they were assessed. See methodology (PDF).
- Comprehensive information about ballot measures, including texts, summaries, and nonpartisan analyses.
- Excellent accessibility for voters with visual disabilities, including scalable fonts to allow users to easily change the size of text on a website; text as an alternative to graphics for users who cannot see images on a website; high contrast between text and background colors; and links that change color once visited.
- Content written below the eighth-grade level, making important information understandable to low-literacy users.
- Polling place locator based on street address, allowing users to access this information regardless of registration status.
- Minimal use of PDF documents.
- Search website function consistently located on every page.
Recommended improvements include:
- Offer lookup tools that allow voters to view their registration status (41 states offer) and the status of absentee ballots (29 states offer) and provisional ballots (19 offer).
- Provide prominent links on the homepage to key content on registration, polling places, and absentee voting.
- Explain circumstances requiring voters to update their registration (42 states offer).
- Provide registration information for the homeless (35 states offer), felons (47 offer), those who are hospitalized (27 offer), and residents of long-term-care facilities (25 offer).
- Offer information for military and overseas voters about how to verify their registration status (27 states offer), how to obtain the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (30 offer), and circumstances requiring them to re-register (22 offer) or renew their requests for absentee ballots (31 offer).
- Note cut-off deadlines for requesting absentee ballots (39 states offer).
- Explain how to obtain a replacement for an absentee ballot that does not arrive in the mail (19 states offer), or is lost or damaged (18 offer).
- Note the availability of TDD or TTY access for users with hearing disabilities (33 states offer).
- Provide a dedicated hotline/helpline to the state election office (30 states offer) and a toll-free telephone number to contact it (40 offer).
Noteworthy Feature: Maine provides the innovative “Inspire Vote-By-Phone Preview & Practice” program to assist voters with disabilities. The system, designed to allow voters with disabilities to vote privately and independently, permits people to practice using their precinct ballots before Election Day by using the Accessible Voting System.
Initial Quick Fix: Provide voters with links to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and the Federal Election Commission, so they can access campaign finance information for state candidates (48 states offer) and congressional candidates (37 offer).
Summary: Maine's score is low overall, and its state website is one of only four to provide no way for voters to confirm their registration status. The website offers just two out of five recommended voting information lookup tools and is below average in usability.
www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec was assessed for content, lookup tools, and usability.