The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has launched a new website aimed at helping the public find answers to the bevy of questions any interested voter faces when it comes time to pull the lever.
The new EAC.gov is a significant improvement over the old site, which was characterized by the austerity that visitors to government websites have come to expect. The new site not only includes more information, but repackages that information in a sleek and aesthetically pleasing, modern website.
EAC.gov is loaded with features. It provides an easy and uniform voter registration page for citizens at home and overseas. The new site is highly inclusive, providing translations in eleven different languages. It offers interested voters the ability to register to volunteer at a local polling place or contact their local election commission. EAC.gov also provides users with a place to go to find up-to-the-minute reports of glitches in the system or report voting irregularities.
The website is seeking to create a centralized database of information on past elections. As it is now, election information is housed in disparate locations across many public and private institutions. The new EAC.gov site offers an overwhelming amount of statistical data and post-election audits for many states.
EAC.gov also gives users the opportunity to understand election law. It provides guidelines for managing and administering local elections, and a “Best Practices Tool Kit” helps increase a polling place’s “accountability, reliability, usability and security.” Sarah Litton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, says the change was driven by the EAC’s stakeholders, who consist of election officials, academics and the general public.
“Local election boards are making improvements [to their websites] because they realize that is where voters are going to learn about polling place locations, how to register—the basics of voting.” Litton says that most of the information provided now existed in earlier versions of the website as well, but the layout has been improved significantly. As a result, awareness of all the features and metrics that EAC offers has increased.
What has the feedback been so far? The public “commended us on providing lots of information on the site,” Litton says. While the EAC is still planning on many improvements, the initial response has been “candid and positive.”
In the near future, the EAC plans to increase the amount of graphics available on the site to increase the speed of comprehension for casual users as well as data-savvy election observers. Litton says the EAC is “investigating ways to incorporate graphics as a way to illustrate tough concepts.”
In Ohio and Wisconsin, local election commissions have been authorized to field one of the three optical recognition devices that have been approved by the EAC. This is the first time that the federal government has certified voting systems, moving toward a uniform, national voting system. The program was authorized by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). While it is not required that individual states use the EAC approved systems, 12 states have already opted to participate.