Election Websites: West Virginia

Election Websites: West Virginia

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Researchers 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, registration forms and deadlines, public access to records, instructions for updating and confirming registration, and resources for people in special circumstances.
  • A detailed state candidate list that includes campaign finance data.
  • Complete information for military and overseas voters about how to register to vote, request absentee ballots, and obtain and use the emergency Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (provided in partnership with the Overseas Vote Foundation).
  • Extensive information about absentee voting, including eligibility, an application form and instructions, deadlines, and what to do if a ballot does not arrive, or is lost or damaged.
  • Useful election calendars and an election countdown clock.
  • Complete results for current and past elections, displayed with maps and as percentages, by county and by precinct.
  • Active voter outreach through social media channels including Facebook and Twitter.

Recommended improvements include:

  • Use a secure server for the lookup tools that require users to submit sensitive personal information (35 states offer).
  • Provide lookup tools that allow voters to view a sample ballot (22 states offer) and check the status of their absentee ballot (29 offer) or provisional ballot (19 offer).
  • Allow access to the polling place lookup tool by street address, instead of personal voter record information (27 states offer).
  • Ensure collapsing and expanding sections of the navigation behave consistently so that users know how to make the navigation bar show all of its links.
  • On the home page, move useful links for voters higher up on the screen so that they can easily find content they need.

Noteworthy Feature: West Virginia's website features a comprehensive and easy-to-read alphabetical list of municipal elections. It includes the dates of each municipality's primary and general elections, and the voting system each county uses.

Initial Quick Fix: Inform voters of the deadline for returning voted absentee ballots to local election offices (47 states offer).

Summary: West Virginia's website scores highly for content, but offers just two out of five recommended lookup tools.

www.sos.wv.gov was assessed for content and lookup tools.

www.sos.wv.gov/elections/Pages/default.aspx was assessed for usability.