Editors' Note: Stuart Whatley, a fall 2008 Prospect editorial intern, did a great job finding the best places to get election results next Tuesday so that we could link to them in our 2008 election night guide (as it turns out CNN.com is probably your best bet most of the time). We asked him to break down the best and worst state Web sites:
While some state government Web sites are on the ball and have already set up a page for tracking election results, others seem to be unaware that there is even an election at all. For those hoping to track results in their home state next Tuesday, here is a cursory list of just a few of the best and the worst state government election sites.
Minnesota: Though it's a state with an extremely close and important Senate race, the Minnesota Secretary of State's Election Board website seems to be pretty worthless where it really counts. Though it has some of the necessary features, such as a vaguely labeled icon for "Voter Information" and information on the candidates, it doesn't indicate that it will have timely results on the actual night of the election. Those who wish to keep an eye on this state's results next Tuesday should stick with CNN.com.
South Carolina: It should come as no surprise that a state we've heard almost nothing from this election season has, well, literally nothing about the upcoming elections on its Secretary of State website. One wonders if the only races South Carolina cares about this year involve four-legs and a dirt track, making this site another member of the "Axis of Timely Election Information Deficiency."
New Mexico: New Mexico's state election website isn't nearly as terrible as South Carolina's. But, it's still pretty bad. Most of the voter service links, such as absentee ballot information, are listed down the right side and look like spam advertisements. Front and center on the page is a schedule, sample ballot, and then a large icon that links to a PDF of Constitutional Amendments proposed by legislators with arguments for or against. Only upon scrolling down, will one find candidate information and the results from the primary, but there does not appear to be any obvious avenue for accessing election night results. The site is basically about as navigable as the Arctic Ocean in February.
Alaska: What do you know, Alaskans seem to take election information pretty seriously with a remarkably user-friendly State Division of Elections website. Replete with schedules, how-to's, and candidate/party overviews, the site even furnishes visitors with three different choices for unofficial election results. Playing the "comparison game" between these three will make for some good clean fun on Tuesday night.
North Carolina: Though it's no Alaska, North Carolina's state election website proves to be manageable and adequately informative. It's got some interesting statistics right along the banner on the front page, such as the number of registered Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians. Additionally, it has the much-needed sample ballots to avoid confusion, absentee information, and -- knowing that scavenger hunts should be reserved for Easter--it has "2008 Election Night Returns" visibly front-and-center for all to see.
Arkansas: Arkansas' election page takes a click or two to find, but it makes up for this in its simplicity and ease of use. Divided into "Results by Contest," "Results by Location," "Voter Turnout," and "Candidate Information" it provides varying avenues for visitors without overwhelming them. Notably, it also provides a MYElection button so that you can track individual races.