In addition, among the twenty wealthiest counties, only two local election authorities (10%) lack a website, whereas among the twenty counties with the lowest median incomes, eleven (55%) have no election information online.
The problem is not just due to resources or wealth, though. Actually, population seems to play an even more significant role. Of the twenty least populous counties in Illinois, 15 (75%) do not have websites. On the other hand, of the twenty most populous, 20 (100%) have a website. In other words, counties with smaller populations seem much less likely to publish election material online than more populous ones.
Overall, the population figures mirror the ones that Harrell, et. al. found. They noted that “although 966 jurisdictions did not have websites, 94% of Americans live in a county where there is an official website that provides election information.”
We found that 3.4% of the Illinois population lives in a county without an election website. That may not sound like a lot, but that’s 439,727 people. To put that into perspective, that’s approximately the population of Raleigh, North Carolina or Miami, Florida.
Though they’re mostly small, these 31 counties matter. We believe they should be able to have an election website that they’re proud of, that serves their community, and that helps to promote civic engagement among their citizens.
Overall, our research on Illinois’s 110 local election authorities and their website status shows that Illinois is emblematic of the problems with civic information throughout the U.S. But just as Illinois is a microcosm for the nation, it might also provide a model for spearheading change.
To help set change into motion, we’ve designed an election website template that’s specifically designed for the needs of Illinois counties. The template comes ready with language on Illinois election law, on the state’s process for voter registration, and so on. It also includes Illinois election website posting requirements.