Texas Counties Improve Election Websites -- Upgrades Still Needed for Safe and Secure Elections

Texas Counties Improve Election Websites -- Upgrades Still Needed for Safe and Secure Elections

Website review graphic
Type: 
Public Statement
Date of Release or Mention: 
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Austin, TX - The League of Women Voters of Texas conducted its fifth survey of Texas county websites in late February and early March 2020. The League celebrates a tripling of outstanding websites in the Texas Primaries when compared to the Nov. 2019 review! The League reviewers found 58 “outstanding” and 37 “very good” county election websites out of 254 counties in Texas.
 
Grace Chimene, president of the League of Women Voters of Texas said, “We are thrilled that so many counties have improved the voter education provided on county websites. With the impact of the coronavirus on voting and elections, it is vital that Texas voters find accurate and up to date information on secure and verified county websites. We encourage counties that haven’t yet made the necessary changes to their websites to take steps now to become a trusted resource for voters in their communities.”
 

Summary of Texas Counties Election Website Review Findings:

 
  • Texas Primary review found overall improvements in county election websites with a tripling of the number of outstanding and very good websites. 58 counties were rated with outstanding websites and 37 with very good websites. However, the majority of county websites (159) were rated good to inadequate.
  • Only 165 Counties (65%) provided any information or link to Vote by Mail information. Vote by Mail is an important option for voters during the health crisis we are all facing.
  • Ease of finding voting information has improved from 2016 where only 74 counties had an identifiable word like voting or election to 207 counties in the Texas primary election review.
  • Our website security review found only 13 counties (up from 11 in 2019) provide a government verified “.gov” domain site URL where voters will feel confident they are at the right website.
  • Most counties need to update their websites to be in compliance with new election laws. Voting and election information are critical to allow citizens to participate in our democracy. Only 65% or 165 counties provide information on voting by mail.
  • We found that 129 counties provided voting and election information for voters with disabilities, 96 for voters in the military or overseas and only 31 for students or first time voters.
  • Only 61% or 155 counties provided any information in Spanish. “State and federal laws require all voting materials to be translated into Spanish statewide” according to SOS Election Advisory No. 2015-05.
  • Only 69% or 174 counties provided a direct link to the Texas Secretary of State voting web site, www.votetexas.gov.
 

Summary of Recommendations to Texas County Election Officials:

 
The 2020 election season is here. With the impact of the coronavirus on voting and elections, it is vital that Texas voters find accurate and up to date information on secure and verified county websites. Texas voters will be inundated with campaign messaging. Many counties need to take steps now to become a trusted resource for voters. The League of Women Voters encourages counties to inspire the trust of voters in their community by:
  • ensuring website security,
  • avoiding election jargon and using plain language voters can understand,
  • following best practices listed above, from sources such as U.S. General Services Administration and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and
  • taking advantage of the cyber security resources provided by the Texas Secretary of State.
 
In addition to the ongoing work to review county election websites and provide local county elections officials with best practice guidance, the League recently sent Secretary of State . Hughs and Governor Abbott recommendations on steps to ensure public safety and the integrity of Texas elections during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
 
 

Resources:

League to which this content belongs: 
Texas