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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).
- A model home page that is easy to scan and that organizes important voting information by audience.
- Rich content—the best in the nation—that comprehensively covers absentee voting and voter registration, with information for students, the homeless, felons, people who are hospitalized, and residents of long-term-care facilities.
- Comprehensive sections of information for military and overseas voters and for voters with disabilities.
- Polling place locator based on street address, allowing users to access this information regardless of registration status.
- Excellent accessibility for voters with visual disabilities. The site uses scalable fonts, which allow users to easily change the size of text; high contrast between text and background colors; links that change color after they have been visited; and “skip navigation links” that jump to the main content on a page for people using screen-reading software.
- Full candidate lists for state and federal office, including detailed contact information.
- Concise, readable text throughout, using easy-to-scan bullet points, and hyperlinks.
- Easy-to-read, important voter content written below the eighth-grade level, making it understandable to low-literacy users.
Recommended improvements include:
- Offer lookup tools that allow voters to view their sample ballots (22 states offer) and provisional ballot status (19 offer).
- Improve navigation throughout the website by providing “breadcrumbs” to help users determine where they are on the site, and add more detailed navigation to help them find other relevant pages located deep within the website.
- Present nonpartisan analyses of ballot measures (24 states offer).
- Link to the Federal Election Commission database of campaign finance reports for congressional candidates (37 states offer).
- Provide candidate information that includes incumbency status (9 states offer), statements (6 offer), and occupation (6 offer).
Noteworthy Feature: None included for Iowa.
Initial Quick Fix: Provide website addresses in addition to other candidate contact information (20 states offer).
Summary: Iowa scores highly and provides best-in-the-nation voting information content on a website that is easy to use. Users have access to three out of five recommended lookup tools.
www.sos.state.ia.us/index.html was assessed for content and lookup tools.
www.iowavotes.gov was assessed for usability.