Courant Editorial: Why Is State’s Election Website So Bad?

The Courant has done a service to the voters of Connecticut pointing out a flaw in the Secretary of the State’s web site that does not serve voters. The editorial is not an exaggeration, it might be a bit too kind.

Just a bit of background.  What is the information voters most want from an elections web site, state or local?  One study says it is not how to register, how to do an absentee vote, nor where to vote. Those are important. Yet, what most voters want to know, most of all, is “What is on the ballot?”.

From the Courant:

Why Is State’s Election Website So Bad?

Want to know which candidates are running in Tuesday’s primary elections? Good luck finding them on the secretary of the state’s website.

This website is an unnavigable embarrassment. Voters should be able, with a click or two, to find out who’s on the ballot. Is that too much to ask?

The secretary’s office issued a news release July 31 saying a list of candidates was posted on http://www.sots.ct.gov/vote. But the list posted midday Friday was in the wrong place and with some of the wrong names.

And just getting to that inaccurate list was a labyrinthian exercise in frustration.

As of lunchtime Friday, the list of contenders for the Aug. 12 primary for governor and lieutenant governor was blank. The candidates were actually listed under the wrong date — “11/04/2014-General.” (Go figure.) Friday’s list included candidates not running in Tueday’s primary.

The secretary said that would be changed Friday afternoon.

This is important information. There’s no excuse for the state not getting it right — and in a place easy to find — just before an election.

We investigated by finding the same information the Courant did. Unlike a most voters, we are familiar with the Secretary’s web site, yet perhaps we are a little less patient.  We found the same information (or lack thereof) the Courant found. Then we went back and traced the steps a very patient and persistent voter might traverse:

First we looked under “Voter Information” and found the link for “Town by Town Sample Ballots”.  But the latest information there was for last November’s election:

Then after looking for a while, we found the link. Going back, attempting to pretend that we were that patient voter. We got to this screen about six (6) clicks from the home page. Not under “Voter Information”, but under “Election Information and Statistics”:

Note: it has no listing for the Primary 4 days away, only for the general election, and completely missing the race for Governor. The race for Governor might be missing because the candidates are incomplete, due to the Primary. But then why is Lt Governor listed, which is also subject to primary in the same party?

We are still two clicks away from a PDF for each individual office, which must be accessed separately, rather than one complete list, better delivered as a html web page.

Finally, we note that apparently the Secretary’s Office did not do as promised yesterday, and make the link touted in the Press Release have the promised information. In any case, we doubt many voters would expect to need to read press releases to find links to election information.

UPDATE:  As David Bidell points out in the 1st comment, as of sometime this morning it was updated.  I might have missed it earlier this morning.

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2 responses to “Courant Editorial: Why Is State’s Election Website So Bad?”

  1. David Bedell

    I just checked and http://www.sots.ct.gov/vote now leads to a page including “List of Candidates,” which links to a PDF list of primary candidates.

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