Election Websites: Virginia

Election Websites: Virginia

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VA 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:

  • All-in-one lookup tool—the best in the nation—allows voters to view personalized sample ballots and confirm their polling place location and status of their registration and absentee or provisional ballot.
  • Excellent section for people with disabilities, including information about the availability of assistance from poll workers, polling place accessibility and curbside voting, instructions for using voting equipment, and TDD access.
  • Comprehensive instructions for how to cast a ballot, including voter ID requirements, polling place hours, and descriptions of voting systems.
  • Complete results of current and past elections, displayed as percentages by county and by precinct.
  • Website search function consistently located on every page and helpful in returning relevant results.

Recommended improvements include:

  • Post a privacy policy explaining protections in place for visitors (42 states offer) and explain the measures taken by the state to secure sensitive personal information—such as dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers, names, and localities—collected through the site's lookup tools (40 offer).
  • Provide information for military or overseas voters if they do not receive requested ballots in time to vote (35 states offer).
  • Organize links and information on the home page logically by audience so that voters can easily find content they are looking for.

Noteworthy Feature: Virginia's site features detailed, multi-year election schedules for various municipalities, such as boards of supervisors, town and city councils, school boards, and soil and water directors.

Initial Quick Fix: Consolidate all critical resources for military voters—for example, information about when to re-register and renew absentee ballot requests—on the main military and overseas voters' page.

Summary: Even with a relatively low score in usability, Virginia's website performs well because it offers all five recommended lookup tools, earning a high score in the content category.

www.sbe.virginia.gov was assessed for content, lookup tools, and usability.