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To be eligible for the award, a site must be an official legislative site developed and maintained by or under the authority of:

(a) a state legislature
(b) a legislative house, or  
(c) an officially recognized legislative partisan caucus.

To be considered for the award, a legislative website must be nominated, either self-nominated or by another state.

Legislative websites in states that have won the award in either of the previous two years are not eligible for consideration.

The number of nominations submitted each year varies. Non-winning nominations are shared only among the committee members and staff.

Award eligibility requirements may be amended at the recommendation of the selection committee with the approval of NALIT and LINCS.

Sites under consideration for the award will be judged based on their design, content and technology. Using an established ranking system based on the judging criteria listed below, the committee shall select one legislative website from among the nominees to be that year’s award winner.

Design

  • Is the design of the site simple enough to be user-friendly?
  • Does the site and its component parts follow a unifying identity and cohesive design theme?
  • Does the site maintain a "fresh" look, with frequently updated information and visual elements?

Content

  • Does the site provide easy access to legislative bills, amendments, and related documents?
  • Does the site provide easy access to state statutes and the state constitution?
  • Does the site provide citizens with access to official proceedings (e.g., audio/video stream, transcripts, official records, etc.)?
  • Does the site provide citizens with user-friendly methods of interacting and communicating with their legislators?
  • Does the site permit feedback from users and provide for responses to user feedback?
  • Does the site provide legislators the opportunity to share their message with citizens and/or the media in an ethical manner?
  • Does the site provide effective social media interoperability?
  • Does the site provide information about legislators and their districts?
  • Does the site provide the user with easy access to identifying his or her legislative representative?
  • Does the site inform citizens on the activities of their state legislature?
  • Does the site educate citizens of all ages about representative democracy and the role of their state legislature?
  • Does the site have links to other useful sites and information (e.g., other government agencies, reports, NCSL, etc.)?

Technology

  • Is the site highly searchable?
  • Is the site browser neutral?
  • Are all links complete and images linked properly (maintenance of site)?
  • Are the site’s features (e.g., copies of documents, multimedia, etc.) cross-platform?
  • Does the site offer tools (e.g., bill tracking, legislator lookup, etc.)?
  • Does the site load quickly and efficiently (e.g., under five seconds)?
  • Does the site reflect an effort to be accessible to all types of users?
  • Is the site easily usable on mobile devices? 

The judging criteria may be amended at the recommendation of the selection committee.

2022 Committee Members

NALIT Appointees

Kenneth Walker
Developer
Georgia General Assembly
(Term of office: Contest years 2022 & 2023)

Mike Schatz
Information Systems Manager
Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
(Term of office: Contest years 2021 & 2022)

LINCS Appointees

Betsy Theroux
Director of Media Services
Georgia General Assembly
(Term of office: Contest years 2022 & 2023)

Barry LaGrave
Director
Minnesota House of Representatives
(Term of office: Contest years 2021 & 2022)

At-Large Member

Morgan Walsh
Assistant Clerk, Bill Maintenance and Information Services
House of Representatives
 (Term of office: Contest year 2022)

NCSL Staff Liaisons

Kae Warnock
NCSL Liaison to NALIT
7700 East First Place
Denver, CO 80230
303-856-1553

Angela Andrews
NCSL Liaison to LINCS
7700 East First Place
Denver, CO 80230
303-856-1349

Committee Structure

The membership of the annual award selection committee is made up of five individuals as follows:

  • Two members from NALIT, serving two-year terms, one appointed by the staff section each year from the state to which the most recent award was given;
  • Two members from LINCS, serving two-year terms, one appointed by the staff section each year from the state to which the most recent award was given; and
  • One member from a staff section other than NALIT or LINCS, serving a one-year term, representing the state to which the most recent award was given, appointed by the NCSL Staff Chair.
  • The representatives from NALIT and LINCS who are in the second year of their respective terms shall serve as co-chairs of the committee.

Members of the selection committee are prohibited from nominating sites for the award.

Committee Responsibilities

  • Solicit nominations for the award
  • Review nominated websites
  • Select winning website

The Online Democracy Award recognizes the following state legislative websites that stand out for making democracy user-friendly.

2022 Online Democracy Award

2022: Washington Legislature

The Washington Legislature was awarded the 2022 Online Democracy Award for having an exceptional legislative website.

NCSL's Online Democracy Award is presented annually to a legislature, legislative chamber or caucus whose website makes democracy user-friendly in an outstanding way. The winning website is chosen by a committee of legislative staffers who evaluate each site’s design, content and technological integration.

Washington’s website was recognized for its easy useability and great functionality. The Online Democracy Award Committee praised the website for giving the citizens everything they need in an easily navigable form. The Washington Legislature’s website is “putting the citizens first,” the committee said.

2021 Online Democracy Award

2021: Georgia General Assembly

In 2021, the Georgia General Assembly's website was recognized for its professional presentation, which offers an easy and helpful way to find information as a citizen, according to the selection committee.

Georgia’s team did a “wonderful job” on their main page and search options and the ability to view the website on a mobile device was impressive.

The selection committee recognized the website for its creative and consistent “Under the Gold Dome” theme. “The Georgia Legislature’s website has the whole package,” the committee said.

2020 Online Democracy Award

2020: Minnesota Legislature

The Minnesota legislature's website was recognized for its “humongous” amount of content, which is organized and structured in a very user-friendly manner, according to the selection committee. The site designers did a great job focusing on members, bill search and statutes. “Considering how much information is on it, the website is almost deceptively simple while still being polished—but not overly fancy for fancy’s sake,” the committee said. “It’s really commendable.”

2019: North Carolina General Assembly

The North Carolina legislature's website was recognized for making excellent use of the space on its homepage, with a “high value of content per square inch,” according to the selection committee. The website features handy icons leading to a wealth of information, with everything “just a click away.” The committee was especially impressed by the House and Senate dashboards for their easy and intuitive access to everything users would want to know about each chamber’s activities, including live audio from the floor. View the NCSL press release.

2018: Massachusetts Legislature

The Massachusetts Legislature's website was honored for staying current with an impressive design and welcoming look and feel. The site’s graphically pleasing budget tracking feature makes the budget process easy to understand and transparent. The selection committee also praised how the site highlights the most popular laws and bills and generates a list of bills that are similar to one another. Other noteworthy attributes included the website’s accessibility to those with disabilities and the “My Legislature” feature, which encourages citizens to explore the site and follow specific bills, hearings and legislators. View the NCSL press release.

2017: Alaska Legislature

The judges selected the Alaska Legislature’s website for its basic but clean and comprehensive interface designed to reach a population that is spread out geographically. The site was recognized for providing everything citizens need at their fingertips, including easy access to legislative actions and legislators’ photos and biographies. The selection committee was particularly impressed by the site’s live chat function, which pops up on the home page, allowing citizens to interact directly and immediately with legislative staff. View the NCSL press release.

2016: New York State Senate

The New York Senate site was selected for its user-friendly design, attractive and easy-to-understand graphics, and a prominent calendar highlighting statewide activities. The site's encouragement of public interaction through a bill comment feature was also a winning element. The site also was commended for straightforward search capabilities and intuitive navigation that facilitates the public's access to the legislature. View the NCSL press release.

2015: Tennessee General Assembly

The Tennessee site was praised for its inviting, warm and welcoming qualities, essential for engaging citizens. The site also was recognized for a consistent design, fresh content but easy to access past information, and other qualities. View the NCSL press release.

2014: Utah State Legislature

The Utah State Legislature's website, “an information powerhouse,” won over the panel of judges with its simple interface and intuitive navigation that facilitates the public’s access to the Legislature. View the NCSL press release.

2013: Massachusetts Legislature

The Massachusetts Legislature's website was honored for outstanding achievement in using design, content and technology to bring democracy closer to the citizens of Massachusetts. The selection committee noted the site’s elegant and attractive design, excellent search functionality and bill tracking feature, useful civic and educational information, and transparent budget information.

2012: Hawaii Legislature

The Hawaii Legislature's website won the 2012 Online Democracy Award. The judges were impressed by the website’s consistent, clean and attractive layout; simple navigation, extensive information and good search capability; extensive educational and jargon-free resources; features that invite citizen involvement; easy-to-find links to calendars, caucus sites, and committee hearings. View the NCSL press release.

2011: Florida Senate

The Florida Senate took home the 2011 Online Democracy Award for providing a simple, clean and fresh design, easy navigation, and a wealth of information for constituents and the public. Some of the other notable winning features of the website include a bill tracking feature,detailed background and contact information on each legislator, educational materials, use of social media widgets and RSS feeds. This is the first time a legislative chamber has been awarded this national honor. The press release provides additional details.

2010: Washington Legislature

The Washington Legislature's website was recognized for providing extensive information that is easy to find and understand. The website's notable features include excellent search functionality, detailed explanations on web pages about available functions and features, Spanish language translations and printer-friendly versions of web pages. The site also was designed to be universally accessible and includes prominent ADA information. See the NCSL press release.

2009: Tennessee General Assembly

The Tennessee General Assembly's website stood out for its ease of navigation, depth of content and openness, and availability of information to the public. Key features of Tennessee's website that contributed to this year's award include: prominent educational resources; well-organized information; a simple, fresh design; integration of archived streaming video clips with agendas and bill information.

2008: Texas Legislature

The Texas Legislature's website was honored for its wealth of information on the members’ pages, search capabilities, streaming video and audio services and an outreach to kids. In addition, this site is easy to navigate, making it friendly to the novice user and valuable for the experienced user.

2007: New Jersey Legislature

New Jersey's website stood out for its ease of navigation, depth of content and openness and availability of information for the public.

2006: Minnesota Legislature

Minnesota's website was recognized for its ease of navigation, advanced searchability and multitude of content.

2005: Utah State Legislature

The Utah State Legislature was honored for its outstanding achievement in using design, content and technology to bring democracy closer to the citizens of Utah. The selection committee specifically noted the site's use of RSS feeds and its audio and video technologies.

DO NOT DELETE - NCSL Search Page Data

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