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California’s election web site needs work

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, December 8th, 2011 at 9:18 am in Secretary of State.

A Pew Center Center on the States’ study on election web sites found California’s in need of improvement.

Click here to read the full study, called “Being Online Is Not Enough.”

The Golden State scored below average and while researchers found some good stuff, the state is shy on key look-up tools offered elsewhere. Here’s a summary of they had to say about www.sos.ca.gov/elections and www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov:

California provides rich and detailed voting information for users, but offers none of the five recommended lookup tools, reducing its overall score. Improved navigation and content organization can help voters find needed information.

The California Secretary of State’s office operates the sites evaluated. The tools include voter registration status, polling place, ballot information, and absentee and provisional ballot status.

The California Voter Foundation, Center for Governmental Studies and the Nielsen Norman Group participated in the project.

While many other states have made great progress in recent years utilizing the Internet as an effective and efficient tool to help voters engage in elections, California is lagging behind,” wrote California Voter Foundation director Kim Alexander. “At CVF, we are working with a number of individuals and organizations to promote a statewide voter registration status lookup tool and hope that someday soon California voters will have as good, if not better access to modern election tools as voters in other states.”

UPDATE: Secretary of State spokeswoman Nicole Winger offered this information in response to the Pew Center on the State’s study:

Since you wrote about today’s Pew announcement and report, I thought you’d be interested in these links to California items the Pew Center missed.

Pew: “Provide instructions for people with disabilities on how to use special voting machines” http://www.sos.ca.gov/voting-systems/oversight/county-vsys/ca-map-counties3.htm

Pew: “Provide state residency requirements for registering to vote” http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm

Pew: “Offer lookup tools that allow voters to view… polling place location” http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_ppl.htm

Pew: “Offer lookup tools that allow voters to view… status of absentee ballots” http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/

Pew: “Offer lookup tools that allow voters to view… status of provisional ballots” http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/

(See also: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_provisional.htm )

Pew: “Offer lookup tools that allow voters to view… their registration status” http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/registration-status/

“The California Secretary of State’s office has come a long way in improving its website with very limited resources in recent years, but we will certainly continue to build more features and make them easier for people to find,” Winger said.

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