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How Local Government Websites Prepare for Election Day

by Jessica Terashima
Post Date:10/12/2016

Across the United States, cities and counties, big and small, are gearing up for Election Day on November 8th. In addition to the highly publicized national and state contests, local governments must also prepare for a broad variety of political races, measures and propositions.

What role does your local government website play?

Your local government website should be the central point for voters to find relevant information, and to access it on their schedule instead of burdening your staff with phone calls and visits. Local government agencies have numerous communication channels available to them, including social media, emails and offline campaigns. Having a central repository for information makes it easier to ensure these channels all deliver the same message.

Let residents know you’re on it

The City of Hibbing, Minnesota knows that residents need and want information about their local elections, and use their home page hero image as the place to let them know they’re on it. When residents click, they arrive at a central page with links to candidate affidavits, voter registration information, polling locations and other voting resources. This simple flow of information covers the vast majority of what voters will be looking for around local elections in Hibbing.

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Make Other Adjustments to Your Website

Carver County, Minnesota updated their website by adding an Elections action button to the homepage amongst other top-requested navigation items. This way residents can easily access the information they seek during the election season, but the county can easily remove or replace the button when the election is over. 

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Share important facts with your community

The City of Park City, Utah uses their “In the Spotlight” feature to let voters know that the election will be conducted by mail, then gives a link to further details including ballot drop locations and voter assistance centers. Without this key information, Park City voters would be more likely to pick up the phone and ask about their polling location. Instead, Park City officials took the initiative to get out the election information on their website well in advance of the actual election date.

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Shine a light on lesser-known issues

In the City of Grand Prairie, Texas, Election Day includes a special vote on the sale of park land. Since this isn’t the type of topic to make it on the nightly news, the city has a special highlight about the election under Top Stories on the homepage, then dedicates a detailed page to the issue along with some background information. Any outreach efforts can include a link to this page, making all communications stay in sync.

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Avoid last minute breakdowns by planning ahead

In the weeks before a big election, all eyes turn to government. According to Fairvote.org, voter turnout surges in presidential election years like this one, so it’s crucial that all local governments have necessary voting information ready – and easy to access - for local voters.

With less than 4 weeks left until Election Day this year, think about the general election information and important details your residents need on your website. Are they easy to find? Are they easy to link back to from other channels? Is your website setting your agency up for a successful election? Take the time now to make sure that your website is ready for November 8th!

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