League of Women Voters finds improvements in 2016 voter information

The League of Women Voters of Texas updated it's highly acclaimed survey of Texas county websites. The League found 23 percent overall improvement in the information provided about elections and voter ID information from late August to late October on the existing 234 official county websites.

Elaine Wiant, president of the Texas League said, "We are encouraged that two thirds of county websites meet the League's minimum criteria for voter and election information informed citizens need to vote this election season."

However, only one third (82 counties, 35 percent) of the websites provided basic information about the new voter ID requirements, up from one fifth in August.

"Confusion about the new voter ID requirements is being reported at polling places during early voting. Inadequate information on county websites foresaw the potential for confusion," said Wiant.

Finding the election-related information was easy on three fourths (78 percent) of the 234 websites. One hundred and two (44 percent) had a recognizable word or icon on the home page that linked to a page displaying elections information.

Two thirds (149 counties, 65 percent) of county websites now provide voting dates, times, and locations as well as a sample ballot, up from 37 percent in August. And one-third (78 counties) provide election and voter ID information in both English and Spanish, nearly twice as many as in August (40 counties, 17 percent).

The availability of Spanish language elections information on official websites of those counties under Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act remains a serious concern. Less than half (38 counties) of the 89 counties required to provide information in Spanish had websites that provided election and voter ID information in Spanish.

Of the 202 official county websites that provide elections information, half (121 counties, 52 percent) improved their overall evaluation score since the first review in August. The number of county websites rated "Outstanding" for providing superb election and voter ID information more than doubled, increasing from 14 to 33. Those rated "Honorable Mention" for their excellent information also more than doubled, from 29 to 66.

Elizabeth Erkel, a vice president of the state League, who oversaw the second review, was pleased, "The improvement in such a short time in the provision of vital voter information in so many local communities speaks to the dedication of county election administrators to our goal of 'Making Democracy Work®."

The survey questions were:
Does the county have a website page that displays election information?
How easy is it to find election information?
How adequate is the election information?
How adequate is Voter ID information?
Is a link to the Secretary of State website provided?
Is election information and voter ID information provided in Spanish?

For this election we reviewed for accessibility and content. In future county website evaluations, we will include the readability level of voting and election information.

The initial report and an update are available on the LWV-Texas website at www.lwvtexas.org/Voter_Rights_Election_Laws.html. Individual county website results are included in an appendix available at the same link.

**Cover Image Courtesy of League of Women Voters Texas.