Election Websites: Vermont

Election Websites: Vermont

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VT 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 registering to vote, including eligibility, residency, forms and deadlines, public access to records, instructions for updating and confirming registration, and information for voters in unique circumstances.
  • Complete contact information for the state election office, including photographs of key staff members.
  • Comprehensive section for people with disabilities, including information about receiving assistance at the polls, instructions for using voting equipment, and relay service access.
  • Complete information on absentee voting, including an application form and instructions, eligibility requirements, deadlines, and what to do if an absentee ballot does not arrive in the mail, or is lost or damaged.
  • Complete results of current and past elections, displayed as percentages by county and by precinct.
  • Detailed state and local election calendars.
  • Section for military and overseas voters, including information about registration, renewal of absentee ballot requests, and use of the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.
  • Ballot-measure texts, summaries, and nonpartisan analyses.
  • Content written below the eighth-grade level, making important information understandable to low-literacy users.

Recommended improvements include:

  • Furnish lookup tools that allow voters to view their registration status (41 states offer), polling place location (49 offer), sample ballots (22 offer), and status of absentee ballots (29 offer) and provisional ballots (19 offer). Vermont is one of two states to provide none of the five recommended lookup tools.
  • Provide summaries (39 states offer) and nonpartisan analyses (24 offer) for ballot measures.
  • Present election information in languages other than English (37 states offer).
  • Provide a way for military and overseas voters to check the status of a voted ballot (33 states offer).
  • Add the website addresses of town clerks to the directory of local election offices (34 states offer).
  • Present job descriptions for elected officials (5 states offer).
  • Place the website search tool more prominently across pages and ensure that it returns results that are relevant.

Noteworthy Feature: Vermont's site includes a “College Voter Guide,” featuring links particularly relevant to young people, important dates in the election process, ways to participate in elections, and election videos.

Initial Quick Fix: There is a lot of excellent information on Vermont's site, but many resources are offered in PDF and could be easily converted to HTML to make them more accessible online.

Summary: Despite a high score in the content category, Vermont offers no lookup tools and its website scores very low in usability.

www.vermont-elections.org was assessed for content, lookup tools, and usability.