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Board of Elections site appears to be functioning today *** UPDATED x1 ***

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008

* After our often heated and quite wonky critique of the State Board of Elections’ website yesterday, some of the problems appear to have been fixed, at least for now. I played with the site this morning and didn’t get any error messages or timeout warnings. That’s a very good thing. They also seem to have cleaned up the site a bit.

Now, if they would just enable tabbed browsing and add RSS feeds to candidate filings, campaign disclosure reports, etc. they’d be well on their way to entering the 21st Century. :)

No website is perfect. This one certainly isn’t (I still haven’t been able to get swf files to play properly here, which led to temporarily replacing that Auto Alliance ad yesterday with a jpg file). But lots of us rely on the Board of Elections’ site every day, often multiple times a day, and that clunky code was driving many of us up the wall, as the volume of comments showed yesterday.

* Anyway, I thought you might like a chance to thank the Board for quickly addressing some of their most egregious problems and perhaps politely suggest ways to make the site even better.

…Adding… C’mon, people. We all whacked them but good yesterday. A kind word and a helpful suggestion is too much to ask?

*** UPDATE *** Well, I may have spoken too soon. A commenter pointed out that the committee search in the campaign disclosure reports is still broken. I checked and the commenter appears to be half right. If you click the “search” button, the search works. If you just hit “return” on your keyboard, you get this result…

Unable to retreive a list of documents for the specified query:Incorrect syntax near ‘'’. Expected ‘!’, ‘(’, NOT, ISABOUT, FORMSOF, STRING, PREFIX_STRING. SQLSTATE=42000

The site is still better than yesterday - by leaps and bounds - but there are some remaining bugs.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - dan l - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 10:35 am:


  2. - IlliniPundit - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 10:56 am:

    It’s nice that it’s not broken, but the SBE should go back and implement some of the suggestions they asked for before doing the redesign, and which they’ve completely ignored.

  3. - dan l - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:19 am:

    I was talking to the peanut gallery this morning - and they’re still rumbling over just how horrific the site was yesterday.

    Somebody had said that if you can’t set up a good search feature, don’t bother and just make it a really easily navigated site.

    Hardly an eloquent solution, but I guess it’s the google era: better no search than bad search.

  4. - Squideshi - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:53 am:

    The first improvement needed should be obvious–get rid of the invalid markup and bring the site into compliance with W3C standards, as required by the Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA).

    Second, stop using Javascript for navigation! People want to be able to bookmark and open pages in new windows, and the excessive use of Javascript making the sharing of links virtually impossible.

  5. - Metro East News Guy - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:56 am:

    Props to the IT guys who got it working again!

  6. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 1:06 pm:

    Searching by committee name got me this:

    Unable to retreive a list of documents for the specified query:Incorrect syntax near ‘'’. Expected ‘!’, ‘(’, NOT, ISABOUT, FORMSOF, STRING, PREFIX_STRING. SQLSTATE=42000

  7. - Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 1:23 pm:

    I found the statement posted by Dab White (Exec Dir) acknowledging the problems and pledging to do his best to correct them was refreshing. That’s always a tough thing for the guy in charge to do, whether you’re in the public or private sector, especially after getting the crap kicked out of you all day. . . .

  8. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 1:35 pm:

    The only kind word I have is “better.” The cleanup of the home page is certainly better than it was. I might even say much better. But it still needs work. There is now real estate for an easy homepage contributions search function. Since that is what most people go to that site for, I suggest they use it.

  9. - BannedForLife - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 5:05 pm:

    Hey, qualifying a contribution search by committee number works! fixed overnite


    …and THANKS Capitolfax for jumping on this

  10. - PC - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 10:00 pm:

    Thanks …

    (Big Rich is watching)

  11. - Squideshi - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 7:11 am:

    I would thank ISBE; but honestly, I saw no change from the day before. That’s not to say that there weren’t any changes–I just didn’t notice them. Also, my biggest concerns with the site didn’t seem to be at all addressed; so as far as I am concerned, there is nothing really to recognize. I hate to seem ungrateful, so let me second that I think it’s great that Mr. White personally responded to our feedback here on the blog. Even without full resolution of the website problems, this is exactly the type of public leadership that is needed. I would take someone who makes such an active effort to respond, as opposed to someone like Blagojevich who seems to avoid questions, any day.

  12. - BannedForLife - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 11:04 am:

    One contributing factor to our ongoing difficulties as users of the SBE website is channel conflict.

    In general under IL FOIA a govt agency can only recover reasonable costs of reproducing a document in response to a FOIA request. But a loophole in IL FOIA allows an agency to charge much more, if it is specifically authorized by state law. (This is the clause that allows, for example, the IL SOS to create an effective barrier to the public finding out the ownership of LLCs).

    The SBE charges for the CD-ROM version of their data. They consider it an important revenue stream. If the website were too useful, they would undercut themselves.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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