Election Websites: South Carolina

Election Websites: South Carolina

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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:

  • “How to Vote” videos and an interactive simulation of the state's touch-screen voting equipment.
  • An extensive section of information for military and overseas voters, including what to do if a regular ballot is not received in time to vote, and how to check the status of one's registration and absentee ballot.
  • Information about how to cast a ballot, including ID requirements, polling place hours and provisional voting rights.
  • Comprehensive election returns, with detailed maps of contest results and archived results going back to 1996.
  • A multi-purpose lookup tool that allows voters to find their polling place and check the status of their registration and absentee or provisional ballots.
  • Features such as scalable fonts and text as an alternative to graphics make content accessible to voters with visual disabilities.
  • Exemplary use of a search function, offering easy access to a simple-to-use, empty search field on every page.

Recommended improvements include:

  • List candidate information such as street addresses (44 states offer), phone numbers (23 offer), e-mail addresses (19 offer), website addresses (20 offer), candidate statements (6 offer), and occupations (6 offer).
  • Offer voter registration information for those who are homeless (35 states offer) or living in long-term-care facilities (25 offer).
  • Provide full texts (34 states offer) and nonpartisan analyses (24 offer) of statewide ballot measures.
  • Offer information about whether voters in certain circumstances have the right to keep their registration records private (22 states offer).
  • Provide a lookup tool for voters to view their sample ballot (22 states offer).
  • Allow access to the polling place lookup tool by street address, instead of personal voter record information (27 states offer).
  • Prominently place links on the home page to important content.

Noteworthy Feature: South Carolina serves voters who are hearing-impaired with an innovative video about the voting process that includes an inset American Sign Language translation.

Initial Quick Fix: Facilitate participation by absentee voters by adding an application form or instructions for what to include in a request for an absentee ballot (45 states offer).

Summary: South Carolina's website features a number of innovative resources and four out of five recommended lookup tools. But it has significant gaps in voting information, lowering its overall score.

www.scvotes.org was assessed for content, lookup tools, and usability.