Election Websites: District of Columbia

Election Websites: District of Columbia

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DC 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:

  • A model home page that organizes information according to audience and prominently places information for voter access.
  • Lookup tools that allow voters to view their registration status, polling place location, and status of absentee and provisional ballots.
  • Information is organized logically by audience with action-based wording that helps users choose the correct path to find information (such as “Register to vote” and “Find your polling place”).
  • Important voter content written below the eighth-grade level to make it understandable to low-literacy users.
  • Detailed information on absentee voting.
  • Ballot measure information includes full texts, summaries, and nonpartisan analyses.
  • Links to campaign finance data for state and federal candidates.
  • Exemplary search function, offering easy access to a simple-to-use, empty search field on every page.

Recommended improvements include:

  • Offer a section geared toward people with disabilities (36 states offer) that provides instruction on how to use special voting machines in polling places (33 offer).
  • Provide a sample-ballot lookup tool (22 states offer).
  • Include more comprehensive information for military and overseas voters about how to register, verify their registration status (27 states offer), and check the status of their voted ballots (33 offer). Also describe circumstances requiring them to re-register (22 offer) or renew their requests for absentee ballots (31 offer).
  • Supply voting information for hospitalized voters (27 states offer).
  • Describe circumstances requiring voters to update their registration information (42 states offer).
  • Present important information in HTML rather than PDF documents, which are more difficult to read and search online.
  • Offer candidate information, including e-mail (19 states offer) and Web site addresses (20 offer), incumbency status (9 offer), and occupation (6 offer).

Noteworthy Feature: D.C.'s website offers a clear and complete explanation of how citizens may place proposals on the ballot through the initiative process.

Initial Quick Fix: Explain how to obtain a replacement for an absentee ballot that does not arrive in the mail (19 states offer) and note whether absentee voters can get help with marking ballots (18 offer).

Summary: The District of Columbia's website scores well and presents above-average voting information for users on a website that gets high marks for usability. It also includes four out of five recommended lookup tools.

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