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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).
- Polling place locator based on street address, allowing users to access this information regardless of registration status.
- Basic information about eligibility, state residency requirements, forms, and deadlines for registering to vote.
- Information for military voters and overseas voters, including a way to check the status of voted ballots and details about the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.
- Presentation of key information in HTML, which is easier to search and browse than PDF documents.
- Features to enhance accessibility for voters with visual disabilities, including high contrast between text and background colors, and text as an alternative to graphics for users who cannot see images on a website.
Recommended improvements include:
- Provide lookup tools that allow voters to view their registration status (41 states offer) and status of absentee ballots (29 offer) and provisional ballots (19 offer).
- Identify date by which application must be submitted for absentee voting (39 states offer).
- Offer a section of information geared toward voters with disabilities (36 states offer).
- Provide voting information for students (36 states offer) and the homeless (35 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 a detailed description of the information returned when visitors use the “My Election Information” lookup tool for voting information.
- Institute a logical structure and navigation for the secretary of state's website that helps users browse through the content.
- Offer a tutorial on completing a ballot (38 states offer).
- Provide information on whether registration records are public information (30 states offer), as well as the circumstances under which a voter's record might remain private (22 offer).
- Present Web addresses or links to local election officials (34 states offer).
- Display election returns by precinct (29 states offer) or using maps (21offer).
Noteworthy Feature: Not included for Massachusetts.
Initial Quick Fix: Include a privacy statement describing protections for users (42 states offer).
Summary: Massachusetts has two state election websites that score below average for usability. Visitors have access to just two out of five recommended lookup tools for voting information.
www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidx.htm and www.wheredoivotema.com were assessed for content and lookup tools.
www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidx.htm was assessed for usability.