Election Websites: Pennsylvania

Election Websites: Pennsylvania

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PA 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:

  • Complete information about how to cast a ballot, including ID requirements, polling place hours, description of voting equipment, and resources in multiple languages.
  • Information about the right to cast a provisional ballot, and a phone number for finding the status of a voted provisional ballot.
  • Comprehensive election results, displayed by county through maps and as percentages.
  • Lookup tools that allow voters to view their registration status, provisional ballot status, and polling place.
  • Polling place locator based on street address, allowing users to find this information regardless of registration status.
  • “VotesPA” Web site dedicated solely to voting information.

Recommended improvements include:

  • Provide basic information about statewide ballot measures (43 states offer), full texts (34 offer), summaries (39 offer), and nonpartisan analyses (24 offer).
  • Offer information about assistance for disabled voters at polling places (46 states offer).
  • List official state political parties (38 states offer) and contact information or links to their websites (32 offer).
  • Offer candidate information such as street addresses (44 states offer), phone numbers (23 offer), e-mail addresses (19 offer), websites (20 offer), candidate statements (6 offer), and occupations (6 offer).
  • Show the name of a state election officer who can provide voter assistance (43 states offer).
  • List fax numbers for local election officials (47 states offer) and the state election office (46 offer).
  • Provide e-mail addresses for local election officials (42 states offer).
  • Offer a lookup tool for voters to view their sample ballot (22 states offer).
  • Improve accessibility for users with visual disabilities on the “VotesPA” site, including offering scalable fonts that allow users to easily change the size of text on a website; provide text as an alternative to graphics for users who cannot see images on a site; and change the color of links once they are visited.

Noteworthy Feature: The state encourages participation in the elections process with an online “Voter Hall of Fame,” honoring Pennsylvanians who have voted in every November election for at least 50 consecutive years.

Initial Quick Fixes: Improve visibility of the lookup tool for absentee ballot status. Improve access to information on the state's two main election websites by creating links from the “VotesPA” portal to election resources on the Department of State website.

Summary: Pennsylvania scores low for content, but a high usability score and the availability of three out of five recommended lookup tools bump up its overall score.

www.votespa.com, www.dos.state.pa.us, and www.pavoterservices.state.pa.us were assessed for content and lookup tools.

www.votespa.com was assessed for usability.