Open government website coming to New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A website built to connect citizens with state government in California is coming to New York.

Digital Democracy was created by students at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and went live in 2015. Users can look up legislation, view committee hearings and connect with advocacy groups.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, one of those behind the privately funded site, says American government has failed to evolve with technology and that voters are hungry for the information they need to hold elected officials accountable. He said it's a sad reflection on government that while Americans regularly use the internet to check their bank account, purchase items or communicate with friends, they often still have to fill out forms and stand in lines to interact with their government.

"It's a complete disconnect with the world we're living in," he said of government's use of technology. "We have got to open up, to become more transparent."

Newsom, a Democrat, worked to launch Digital Democracy with former California lawmaker Sam Blakeslee, a Republican. Blakeslee said the site may initially interest journalists, advocacy groups and other political insiders but he believes that ultimately sites like it could be a key way of connecting everyday citizens with their public officials.

"Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat the goal is to make the system more accountable," he said.

Digital Democracy is being started in New York in partnership with the NAACP New York State Conference.

Plans are underway to create sites in Texas and Florida next year.