So says the Pew Center on the States.
Florida ranks 7th overall in the PEW study, receiving “excellent” marks on “content” and solid marks for “lookup tools,” but it ranks in the bottom half of the states when it comes to the “usability” of the Secretary of State’s website.
Here’s a link to PEW’s evaluation of Florida, which is excerpted below:
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).
- Comprehensive voter registration and ballot information, including details on registration eligibility and residency requirements, deadlines, forms, and information for college students, felons, the homeless, hospitalized voters, and voters residing in long-term-care facilities.
- Concise, quickly absorbed text used throughout the website, with easy-to-scan bullet points and hyperlinks.
- Lookup tools that allow voters to view their registration status, polling place location, sample ballots, and absentee ballot status.
- Comprehensive listings of candidates and candidate party affiliations, contact information, and incumbency status.
- Full texts, summaries, and nonpartisan analyses of statewide ballot measures.
- Campaign finance data links for state and federal candidates.
- Election results in a section that displays them in user-friendly ways, such as by county, in percentages, and with maps.
- Text resizing function helps visually impaired users.
Recommended improvements include:
- Create a section of information geared toward people with disabilities (36 states offer).
- Use more specific informational labels for links to guide users to content from the home page, rather than vague labels such as “Voter Information.”
- Improve navigation throughout the website so that it is logical and consistent on each page and makes important information prominent and accessible.
- To avoid confusion, place lookup tools on a page that does not look like a different site.
- Improve the lookup tool’s accessibility for visitors with screen-reader software, which cannot “see” the squiggly words (CAPTCHA System) that a user must enter.
- Explain how to obtain a replacement if a requested absentee ballot does not arrive in the mail (19 states offer), or is lost or damaged (18 offer).
- Provide a tutorial on how to complete a ballot (38 states offer).
- Offer instructions for people with disabilities on how to use voting machines at polling places (33 states offer).
- Provide a lookup tool for voters to check the status of their provisional ballot (19 states offer).
- Present important information in HTML format rather than in PDF documents, which are more difficult to read and search online.
Noteworthy Feature: A “Candidate Tracking System” tracks candidates throughout the election process, describing their status, campaign finance activity, personal photos, and contact data. This information is updated regularly as candidates file and update their information.
Initial Quick Fix: Include a noticeable link from the state website home page to the voting information website.
Summary: Florida’s site scores highly and provides excellent voting information, including four out of five recommended lookup tools. Improved navigation and accessibility for voters with visual disabilities would enhance usability.
http://election.dos.state.fl.us/index.shtml was assessed for content, lookup tools, and usability.