The website for the Hawaii state legislature, which was redesigned and upgraded less than a year ago, earned the Online Democracy Award as the nation's top legislative website this week during the National Conference of State Legislatures' 2012 Legislative Summit in Chicago, Ill. NCSL's Online Democracy Award is given each year to a legislature, legislative chamber or caucus whose website stands out for making democracy user-friendly.
“Through public input and the teamwork of our diligent staff, the Hawaii State Legislature’s website has become a more user-friendly, accessible portal for citizens of all ages wishing to participate in or learn more about the legislative process,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui. “The website helps citizens from all islands throughout Hawaii to connect to information and policy issues that directly impact their lives and communities. We are greatly honored to be recognized for these efforts.”
The Hawaii state legislature, stood out to the panel of judges for the extensive amount of information available on the website. Features such as the guide for first-time users, explanations about how to use various features, a citizens guide and a legislative glossary allows citizens of all ages to participate in the legislative process.
The judges also noted:
- Additional features that invite citizen involvement, such as a “Submit Online Testimony” link on the home page and on bill summary pages, and a flexible “Find Your Legislator” feature.
- Easy and accessible links to calendars, caucus sites, and committee hearings.
- A simple, clean and consistent layout, with the most frequently-used items in the center of the home page and a consistent search function on left and navigation tools on the right.
"As a state comprised of islands, access to legislative information online is critical, and encourages greater participation by the public in the legislative process," said Hawaii's Speaker of the House Calvin Say. "We are so proud of our team in being recognized through the Online Democracy award. Their excellent work in redesigning the website promotes greater openness and transparency. With rapid changes in technology, we understand that people are constantly seeking information in new ways, and this website has now become an invaluable tool for lawmakers, staff, the media and citizens of all ages."
The Online Democracy Award is sponsored by two of NCSL's staff organizations: the National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT) and the Legislative Information and Communications Staff (LINCS).
Previous winners of the NCSL Online Democracy award include the Florida Senate, Washington Legislature and Tennessee General Assembly.