Washoe County launches new public comment platform

by | Jul 18, 2023

Participation in Board of County Commissioners meetings will now be easier and more accessible through a new online tool launched by Washoe County today.   

The new platform, SpeakUp, is provided through Granicus, the software that powers Washoe County’s public meetings. Online meeting agendas will now have an eComment option where residents can sign up to speak in person or provide their comments online. Comments will be limited to 2,250 characters – the approximate equivalent of three minutes of speech, the limit for public comment in meetings. Commenters will not be able to respond to other comments and can only comment once per item.  

Those who wish to appear in person to speak during meetings can register to speak through the same portal, eliminating the need to queue up at the meeting and fill out a comment card.   

“Board of County Commissioners meetings are generally held during working hours, which prevents a large portion of our population from attending,” County Manager Eric Brown said. “This new platform levels the playing field and allows all residents to participate in the democratic process whether they can attend a meeting or not.”   

Email has long been an option for those who cannot attend meetings in person, and those emails are available to County Commissioners and entered into the record. However, they are not read aloud at meetings, meaning that many of them may not be noticed by officials or the public. SpeakUp makes the online comments publicly visible so elected officials, fellow residents, and other decision-makers can read them at any time and gain a greater understanding of the range of thoughts and views from residents. Commenters can also select a stance on topics, marking “Support,” “Oppose” or “Neutral.”  

eComment will be disabled at 4 p.m. the day prior to the meeting, which aligns with the current procedure of not accepting emailed comments after 4 p.m. Speakers can register to speak through SpeakUp until the start of the meeting. Commentors can continue to sign up to speak in chambers throughout the meeting on items until the item has been heard by the commissioners or board.  

As always, public comment is only accepted on “For Possible Action” items, not on items that are labeled “For Discussion Only.” General public comment, during which speakers can address the Board about any topic they wish, is provided at the end of the agenda.   

Learn more about this new platform and how to add public comment here. View the FAQs on the same page.