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Why Super Tuesday is not equally super for all voters

March 6, 2012

Hi Folks,

In honor of Super Tuesday, I've drafted this commentary below about how voters have unequal access to resources and tools that help them to vote. It's also posted on my blog.

-- Kim Alexander, President & Founder
California Voter Foundation

Why Super Tuesday is not equally super for all voters

Today is Super Tuesday, when voters in ten U.S. states get to weigh in on the Republican Presidential primary.

But how voters vote, when they must register, whether they must show and ID at the polls, and how their votes will get counted toward the Presidential primary contest varies from state to state.

Across the country voters also have uneven access to onlinetools that can help them find their polling place, verify their registration status, and view their sample ballot before voting, all enormously powerful resources that help busy people make informed, confident choices.

Last year a Mellman Group poll of voters found that:

Whether voters can access the resources and tools they need to vote varies widely from state to state, according to a nationwide assessment of state election web sites conducted in 2010 for the Pew Center on the States. A quick review of the ten "Super Tuesday" states' election web sites demonstrates this unequal access to voter tools.

Here's a rundown:

The increasing use of the Internet and lookup tools to help voters prepare for elections is a welcome trend, but not without its pitfalls. In some states, profiles of registered voters can be accessed using personal information easily found online.

Georgia's site, for example, requires a user to enter the initial of their first name, last name, county, and birth date. The return screen displays that voter's registration status, along with his or her full name, full street address, gender, race, registration date and absentee ballot status.

The 2011 "Being Online is Still Not Enough" study shows there is much room for improvement, particularly in my own state, California, which is one of only two states (the other being Vermont) whose election web sites currently offer none of the key voter lookup tools.

Hopefully by this Fall more states will provide more online services to voters and also tighten up security and privacy practices involving voter data.

In the meantime, voters in North Dakota and Virginia might feel grateful today for living in two of the ten states that provide all of the relevant lookup tools the state web site project assessed, tools that give those states' voters access to the modern conveniences that make voting feel less like a chore and more like a meaningful exercise.

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This page was first published on January 27, 2012 | Last updated on March 6, 2012
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