Election Websites: Tennessee

Election Websites: Tennessee

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TN 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:

  • Voter registration information for those who are hospitalized, felons, college students, the homeless, people in the military, or residents of long-term- care facilities.
  • Extensive information about absentee voting, including eligibility requirements, instructions and deadlines for applying, and an explanation of what to do if ballots are not received or are spoiled.
  • Lookup tools for voters to check their registration status and polling place, both transferred to a secure server in 2010 and highlighted on the home page.
  • Job descriptions for elected officials.
  • Exemplary navigation, with “breadcrumbs” that help users determine where they are on the website.

Recommended improvements include:

  • Provide Election Day polling place hours (49 states offer).
  • Offer information about the availability of assistance by poll workers for voters with disabilities (46 states offer).
  • Create a section of information for voters with disabilities (36 states offer).
  • Provide information about a voter's right to cast a provisional ballot (43 states offer).
  • Offer a provisional ballot lookup tool (19 states offer) or a phone number for finding out whether provisional ballots were counted (15 offer).
  • Present election resources in languages other than English (37 states offer).
  • Provide information about whether a voter can receive assistance in marking an absentee ballot (18 states offer).
  • Allow access to the polling place lookup tool by street address, instead of personal voter record information (27 states offer).
  • Make text easy to scan and concise, using bullets and hyperlinks.

Noteworthy Feature: The website includes a helpful explanation of the differences between absentee voting by mail, which requires an acceptable reason under state law, and early, in-person voting, which is designed to increase the convenience of voting and is available to any Tennessee voter, without providing a reason.

Initial Quick Fix: Fix the numerous broken links on the “Military/Overseas Voting” page that are supposed to lead to instructions about the Federal Voting Assistance Program's Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.

Summary: The website is well designed and scores high in usability, but an average content score and low score for lookup tools contribute to its overall low score. Tennessee offers just two out of five recommended lookup tools.

www.state.tn.us/sos/election/index.htm was assessed for content, lookup tools, and usability.