In late 2009, the Town of Prescott Valley, AZ built a high tech Auditorium/Council Chambers and wanted to incorporate the latest technologies to enhance government transparency and maximize their “going green” efforts. For nearly four years, Prescott Valley has been successfully streaming their council meetings on the Web with Granicus; the obvious next step was to add some new features to help them further streamline their Council meeting process with automated, paperless workflows. Electronic voting was a major component—the city needed an upgrade to their current systems and discovered Granicus’ touch-screen voting system available within the Granicus Meeting Efficiency Suite. It met all the goals they were trying to meet—paperless, automated, and worked with their existing systems.
I was fortunate enough to interview Diane Russell, Prescott Valley Town Clerk, about their City’s experience so far with their new voting technology. She had some very good insight to offer and I thought it could help other agencies wanting to bring in the latest digital tools to create a completely a paperless and automated environment for agendas, minutes, and voting! If you want to learn more about this solution, contact us! Otherwise, read on to learn from Diane’s experience with system so far.
Has the voting solution helped solve any issues you were having in meetings?
A Municipal Clerk’s attention is devoted to the proceedings of a Council meeting, leaving little time for anything else. The new voting system offered Prescott Valley the opportunity to replace an outdated and unreliable electronic voting system with one that would interface with the town’s existing Granicus system. This eliminated having to operate two unrelated software programs simultaneously on one laptop and devote the attention needed to the meeting.
What are the benefits of Granicus’ voting system?
Our voting system provides several benefits to the users both from a voting member and clerk’s workflow perspective. With a few strokes on the touch-screens, motions can be made, seconded and voted on. All of these are automatically recorded in Granicus' Meeting Efficiency solution to help generate my minutes.
One feature that the Council really appreciates is the ‘Suggested Action’ verbiage that can be added pre-meeting during agenda entry by the Clerk. Then, during the meeting, Council members can read the motion right from their own touch screens. We also chose to customize some of the functionality so that none of the votes are displayed until all Council members have voted. This eliminates any perception of ‘rubber stamp’ voting by the Council.
In regards to “going green,” does Prescott Valley provide backup documents electronically to the Council with Granicus?
Yes! Another great feature available through Granicus’ system is the capability of attaching every document to each agenda item individually. Both the Council and public can access the whole agenda packet piece-by-piece on the website and print it out if they wish. Council also has access to each document on their touch-screens which can eliminate paper agendas during the meeting.
Another effort that has helped Prescott Valley reduce paper consumption was leveraging their Granicus solution to archive 3 years of web streaming videos, agendas, and minutes online. This has really helped us meet our goal of “going green” and provides the transparency of our local government efforts.
What is your favorite thing about the system?
My personal favorite portion of the system is not having to track who made a motion, who seconded it and what the vote result was. Granicus’ voting system automatically saves and adds that information into the minutes for me.
How has this changed your job as Town Clerk?
It has eliminated hand written documentation of the council proceedings—which saves me a ton of time. The electronic system tracks everything from the motion, votes, and even notes that I add during the meeting. Plus, it all integrates with what we were currently doing with Granicus on the Web: broadcating our council meetings live and on-demand as well as publishing our agendas and minutes all within a searchable meeting portal. The end result is more transparency for our citizens and more legislative efficiency for staff and elected officials.
If you are interested in consolidating your workflow into one solution that combines web-streaming, agenda and minutes automation, and voting contact us today!