Highs and lows revealed in review of local election websites across the country
By: Johanna Herman
The availability of current information about local ballot measures varies from state to state, let alone from county to county. Of the 738 counties reviewed by Ballotpedia, 233 do not have local websites that display election information.
In an attempt to better assess the overall availability of local election information online, Ballotpedia conducted a study from December 2011 - March 2012 to better identify how much information was easily found on local websites.
In general, Ballotpedia tracks a total of 11 states in its yearly local election coverage. These states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. As other states make their information available, more data is added to Ballotpedia's coverage of local elections.
Some states, like Washington and California, had great websites and election information including ballot text and updated results was easily found in each county. However, such information was not easily found in states like Illinois and Missouri.
The study evaluated each county on seven points: whether the county had election website, the availability of current election information, ballot text availability, if an issues list existed, if election results were updated shortly following the election, the availability of a ballot measure archive and the ease of navigation. The seventh component, not listed on the table below, ranked the accessibility of the local county website, if it was user friendly and easily navigable. Counties were evaluated on a scale of 1-5, 5 being a perfect score. Only 39 counties of 738 scored a "5," meaning they were identified as having nearly perfect sites. 23 counties were in Washington State, 7 were in California, 3 counties each in Colorado and Florida and 1 county each in Illinois, Ohio and Oregon.
- The State of Washington consistently had the best information, while Missouri consistently had the worst.
- The county with the longest archival history was Benton County in Oregon. The county has election information as far back as 1852.
- Of the 738 counties checked, 505 (68%) had election information available on their local websites.
For a more detailed breakdown of how each state and each county did in the 7 assessed areas, take a look at "County election website evaluations." Details for all 738 counties can be viewed by clicking on each state link below.
|State||# of counties||Election website||Current election info||Ballot text||Issues list||Updated results||Ballot measure archive|