Election Websites: Mississippi

Election Websites: Mississippi

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MS BONE2Researchers 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).

Strengths include:

  • Basic information about eligibility and state residency requirements, forms, and deadlines for registering to vote.
  • Voting information lookup tool for polling place locations, which also provides information on the office holders associated with that location.
  • Polling place locator based on street address, allowing users to find this information regardless of registration status.
  • Features to enhance accessibility for voters with visual disabilities, including high contrast between text and background colors, links that change color once they are visited, and text as an alternative to graphics for users who cannot see images on a site.
  • Ballot measure texts and summaries.

Recommended improvements include:

  • Provide lookup tools that allow voters to view their registration status (41 states offer), sample ballots (22 offer), and status of absentee ballots (29 offer) and provisional ballots (19 offer).
  • Provide information about absentee voting, including eligibility requirements (49 states offer), instructions for applying for absentee ballots (45 offer), forms (45 offer), deadlines important to absentee voters (40 offer), how to receive a replacement if a requested absentee ballot does not arrive (19 offer) or is lost or damaged (18 offer), and whether absentee voters can receive assistance in marking their ballots (18 offer).
  • Explain circumstances that require voters to update their registration information (42 states offer).
  • Offer voting information for students (36 states offer), the homeless (35 offer), those who are hospitalized (27 offer), and residents of long-term care-facilities (25 offer).
  • Create a section of information geared toward voters with disabilities (36 states offer) and note the availability of TDD or TTY access.
  • Provide a way for military and overseas voters to verify registration status (27 states offer) and describe circumstances under which they must re-register (22offer) or renew a request for an absentee ballot (31 offer).
  • Provide information on provisional voting (43 states offer).
  • Present important information in HTML rather than PDF documents, which are more difficult to read and search online.
  • Link to the Federal Election Commission database of campaign finance reports for congressional candidates (37 states offer).
  • Offer candidate information, including e-mail (19 states offer), website (20 offer), and telephone (23 offer) contacts; incumbency status (9 offer); statements (6 offer); and occupation (6 offer).
  • Provide nonpartisan analyses of ballot measures (24 states offer).
  • Display election results in percentages (40 states offer), by precinct (29 offer), and with maps (21 states offer).
  • List Web addresses or links to local election officials (34 states offer).
  • Describe circumstances under which voters may keep their registration record private (22 states offer).

Noteworthy Feature: The secretary of state's “Touch & Vote Mississippi” website provides a clear, informative guide to the use of Mississippi's touch-screen voting system, including detailed descriptions for people with disabilities.

Initial Quick Fix: Provide a prominent link to the “Touch & Vote Mississippi” site on the election information home page.

Summary: The low scores of Mississippi's two state election websites reflect poor performance in voting information and usability. The sites' visitors have access to just one of the five recommended lookup tools for voting information. 

www.sos.ms.gov and www.touchandvote.ms.gov were assessed for content and lookup tools. www.sos.ms.gov/elections.aspx was assessed for usability.