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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).
- Logically organized information on the voter-geared website, with key content on the homepage and easy-to-scan text.
- Lookup tools that allow voters to view their registration status, polling place location, sample ballots, and absentee ballot status.
- Polling place locator based on street address, allowing users to find this information regardless of registration status.
- Voter registration information for students, those who are homeless, felons, hospitalized voters, and residents of long-term-care facilities.
- Exemplary use of a website search function, offering easy access to a simple-to-use, empty search field on every page.
- Information available in Spanish.
Recommended improvements include:
- Make navigation on the “Vote Naturally” site clearer and less image-based. The graphics-laden navigation poses a challenge for visually disabled users, whose screen-reading software would not register it, and for people who might mistake the button navigation for advertising.
- Present important information in HTML rather than in PDF documents, which are more difficult to read and search online.
- Offer a lookup tool for voters to check their provisional ballot status (19 states offer).
- Explain circumstances requiring military and overseas voters to re-register (22 states offer) or renew their requests for absentee ballots (31 offer). Provide a link for checking a voted ballot's status (33 offer).
- Improve accessibility for users with visual disabilities on the “Vote Naturally” site: offer scalable fonts that allow them to easily change the site's text size, provide text as an alternative to graphics for those who cannot see images on a site, and change the color of links once they are visited.
- Create a section of information geared toward voters with disabilities (36 states offer), including instructions on the use of special voting machines in polling places (33 offer) and noting the availability of TDD or TTY access (33 offer).
- Provide an absentee voter application form (45 states offer), explain how to obtain a replacement for a lost or damaged ballot (18 offer), and note whether absentee voters can get help with marking ballots (18 offer).
- Provide a dedicated hotline/helpline to the state election office (30 states offer).
- Publish Web addresses or links to local election officials (34 states offer).
Noteworthy Feature: The polling place lookup tool also offers information about early voting, including where and when early voting is available.
Initial Quick Fix: Link to the Federal Election Commission database of campaign finance reports for congressional candidates (37 states do this).
Summary: Arkansas features important content clearly on the homepage of its voter-oriented website and offers four out of five recommended lookup tools, resulting in a higher overall score. However, more extensive content, improved navigation, and greater use of HTML to present information would benefit visitors.
www.votenaturally.org and www.sos.arkansas.gov/elections.html were assessed for content and lookup tools.
www.votenaturally.org was assessed for usability.