Election Websites: Maryland
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).
- Lookup tools that allow voters to view their registration status, polling place location, sample ballots, and status of absentee and provisional ballots. Maryland offers all five recommended lookup tools.
- Polling place locator based on street address, allowing users to find this information regardless of registration status.
- Simple navigation that highlights the page a user is viewing.
- Logical organization of information on the Board of Elections website, so that users do not have to jump around the website or visit multiple pages to find related content.
- Extensive information about registering to vote and casting a ballot, including voting eligibility, residency requirements, registration deadlines, identification requirements at the polls, polling place hours, and instructions on how to complete a ballot.
- Information about provisional voting, and a toll-free number for provisional voters to use to check status of ballots.
- Navigation features on the Board of Elections website, including “skip navigation links” that jump to the main content on every page, which allow users with visual disabilities to easily access important information.
- Lists of candidates for state and federal office, including links to federal and state campaign finance data.
- Ballot measure texts and summaries.
Recommended improvements include:
- Provide voting information targeted to hospitalized voters (27 states offer) and residents of long-term-care facilities (25 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).
- Provide nonpartisan analyses of ballot measures (24 states offer).
- Provide a dedicated hotline/helpline to the state election office (30 states offer).
- Describe circumstances under which voters may keep their registration information private (22 states offer).
Noteworthy Feature: Maryland's “Rumor Control” page addresses rumors about voting privileges and the election process. For example, the page answers questions such as whether home foreclosure results in the loss of voting privileges. It explains that people may use any designated Early Voting Center but warns that they are not open on Election Day.
Initial Quick Fix: Provide a way for military and overseas voters to verify their registration status (27 states offer) and check the status of their voted ballots (33 offer).
Summary: Maryland's two websites score highly. They offer all five recommended lookup tools, excellent voting information content, and strong usability.
www.elections.state.md.us was assessed for usability.