Election Websites: Rhode Island

Election Websites: Rhode Island

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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).

Strengths include:

  • A section for people with disabilities, including information on assistance by poll workers, instructions on voting equipment, and TTY access.
  • Complete information about registering to vote, including eligibility and residency requirements, registration forms and deadlines, public access to records, and instructions for updating and confirming registration.
  • Complete information about casting a ballot, including ID requirements, polling place hours, description of voting equipment and resources in languages other than English.
  • Detailed “Voting at the Polls” FAQ, including a picture of the state's paper ballot.
  • Information about a voter's right to cast a provisional ballot.
  • Polling place locator based on street address, allowing users to find this information regardless of registration status.
  • “Voter Information Center” featuring lookup tools for sample ballots, voter registration and absentee ballot status, plus a way for voters to find their elected officials and their contact information.
  • Lookup tool for provisional ballot status on the Board of Elections website.

Recommended improvements include:

  • Provide more information about absentee voting, including the deadline for returning voted absentee ballots (47 states offer); acceptable methods for submitting absentee ballot requests (44 offer); instructions on what to do if an absentee ballot does not arrive, is lost or is damaged (18 offer); and whether voters are allowed to receive assistance marking an absentee ballot (18 offer).
  • Provide information for military and overseas voters about the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (39 states offer), including instructions on how to obtain and complete it if a regular ballot is not received in time to vote (30 offer).

Noteworthy Feature: The multipurpose “Voter Information Center” lookup tool is offered in English and Spanish.

Initial Quick Fix: Make information about polling place hours more visible by adding it to the “Voting at the Polls” page or the main “Elections and Voting” page.

Summary: Rhode Island scores well largely because of an offering of all five recommended online voter lookup tools and a high score in usability.

http://sos.ri.gov/elections and www.elections.ri.gov were assessed for content and lookup tools.

http://sos.ri.gov/elections was assessed for usability.