California trails in online tools for voters, study finds
This post has been corrected. See below.
Why would you want to be in Minnesota in November rather than in sunny California?
Because Minnesota has far better online tools for voters than the Golden State, according to a new study from the Pew Center for the States.
"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," Kim Alexander of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, which helped write the report, said in a statement.
The study found California was one of only two states that failed to give all its voters five basic online tools. (The other state was Vermont.)
The report dinged California and the secretary of state's office for giving voters no way to check their registration status, polling place, requirements to register or instructions on using special voting equipment for people with disabilities. Some counties do make such information available to voters online.
California was also criticized for providing its voter information in PDFs rather than more user-friendly HTMLs.
The report did praise the state for "rich and detailed" voter information on ballot measures, candidates and explanations of how to cast a vote. Nonetheless, it scored California a meager 59.6 out of 100, near the very bottom. Compare that to Minnesota, which topped the pack at 90.3.
Of course, two other comparisons before we go. Average temperature in Minneapolis in November: 41. Average temperature in Los Angeles that month: 73.
[Corrected at 11:25 am Thursday: A previous version of this post incorrectly said Pew dinged California for using HTML rather than PDF documents. Additionally, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has responded and contends that her web site does provide some of the services Pew claims it lacks.]
-- Nicholas Riccardi
Photo: Ryan Ching prepares to load paper mail-in ballots into a sorting machine at the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder's office in Norwalk in November 2010. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times