The New York state Senate was recognized for having the best legislative website in the country by the National Conference of State Legislatures and received the 2016 Online Democracy Award.
The Online Democracy Award is given each year to a legislature, legislative chamber, or caucus whose website helps make democracy user-friendly. It is selected by a national committee of legislative staff who evaluate each nominated site’s design, content and technological integration.
The interactive NYSenate.gov was unveiled last year. The award was presented during the conference’s 2016 legislative summit in Chicago, which was held August 8-11.
When the Senate launched its website redesign last October, the interactive layout was the first of its kind in any legislature in the entire country. Key features of the website allow users to track the status of important bills in real-time to receive periodic updates on issues they care about, support or oppose legislation online, sign petitions, and provide immediate input and feedback on all legislative proceedings.
User feedback is compiled into reports for elected officials to review.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Judges praised the website for how it encourages public interaction. They considered the site’s bill comment feature as a plus, along with features that allow for easy sharing of bills on social media. The judges also applauded its user-friendly design, attractive and easy-to-understand graphics, and prominent calendar highlighting statewide activities.”
During the NCSL Summit, New York state Senate technology staff gave presentations about the website, and fielded questions from attendees who were interested in potentially adopting the Senate’s program for their own state’s legislatures.
“The Senate brought democracy to the people millennium-style. Our best-in-the-nation website increases transparency, and allows New Yorkers to participate in government from their home computers or even from their smart phones,” said Sen. Jeff Klein of the Independent Democratic Conference. “It’s helped legislators better understand what their constituents want, and helped constituents understand the way the legislative process works.”