[Note: I’m going to keep this post at or near the top for most of the day because this problem absolutely has to be addressed.]
* Head over to the State Board of Elections’ website and try to look up a few candidate filings and campaign contributions.
I was supposed to go over to the State Board myself and tell them how badly they screwed up their website, but I just don’t have time to hold their little hands through this disaster. I sent an admittedly snippy e-mail to their webmaster after attempting numerous times - without success - to access a simple candidate filing and got an (understandably) snippy response (considering my subject line was: “You really screwed up your website”), along with this kicker…
I looked over and tested just about everything and it all seems to be in working condition.
Apparently, this person has no clue. I am repeatedly getting two error messages…
* One of those error messages reads, in part: “Your session has expired or you need to enable cookies on your web browser settings.”
Why would my session have to expire? Why would the State Board care? Also, cookies are enabled on my browser, so I don’t get it.
* The other common message reads: “Unexpected errors occurred trying to switch to next page.”
I am constantly getting this message on my Firefox browser. The error page claims that the Board has been “automatically notified of these errors,” yet the webmaster claims all is hunky dory.
They broke their site. Plain and simple.
Leave your own critiques in comments.
*** ADDING *** Please be specific. Most of us already know the Board’s site is a horror show. Don’t just vent. Point to specific error messages or problems you are having. Otherwise, your comment is worthless. Thanks much. :)
*** UPDATE 1 *** IlliniPundit weighs in…
One of the big problems with campaign finance in Illinos is that the State Board of Elections collects a bunch of data, but they make it as inconvenient as possible for the public and press to access the data and pass it around.
More ease of use and convenience and greater public and media access to the data would do more to clean up Illinois politics than an ineffective feel-good measure like a contribution ban, yet nobody talks about how badly the State Board of Elections is screwing this up.
Their site is so broken that they’re basically hiding campaign finance data from the very people they’re supposed to be working for.
*** UPDATE 2 *** I should have mentioned this at the top, but the inability to open links in new tabs or windows is absolutely insane. Why would the Board want to keep people from using basic Internet browser functions? Outmoded and completely ridiculous.
*** UPDATE 3 *** Ben at TwoKings has more…
I won’t even get started with the design issues. I could put up with the bad design if it was functional and smooth, and easy to interact with.
One of the biggest issues is that at times, when searching for various forms and pieces of data, you get various error messages. I’ve found that refreshing/reloading the browser can sometimes get you past the error message, but it is still a pain. The frustrating thing for me is that I’ve even had a hard time replicating the error. It seems, at least, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
*** UPDATE 4 *** Elections Board executive director Dan White just sent me this e-mail…
In response to comments about problems with the SBE website, we hear them, we are aware of these issues and are working hard to establish both near term and long term solutions. Suggestions are always welcome and we continue to incorporate constructive recommendations to improve the website. Our goal is to provide access and avaiability to all of the thousands of users who rely on our information systems. As with any new system, there are new problems and issues to be addressed and resolved. Please continue to comment and utilize our website.
We will have significant improvements in place shortly and we look for your comments as we continue to implement these changes.
I’m not holding my breath. We were promised a great, new website over a year ago (right around the time of my 2006 holiday party), and what we got was a giant pile of garbage. They need a new tech team.