Electronic balloting approved

Written by Administrator
 | Wednesday, 12 March 2014 15:54

Town Meeting voters will again see electronic voting devices at next year’s Town Meeting, as voters approved an article to pursue, at no cost, the use of balloting for future town meetings.

Article 32, the last on the ballot at Monday night’s continued meeting, sought support from the town to pursue, at no cost to the town, the use of the devices at next year’s Town Meeting and to pursue a contract with a vendor for future town meetings.

Jim Sullivan, Electronic Voting Committee chair, presented the article to town meeting voters, thanking them for their support and participation in the electronic voting during Saturday’s Town Meeting. In 2013, Town Meeting voters approved an article to allow the moderator to appoint a committee to assess the applicability of electronic voting at Town Meeting. The committee examined electronic voting and the use of such devices at a town meeting in Wayland and determined the devices would be useful at Duxbury’s Town Meeting.

“The intent of this article is to allow us to use the devices, at no cost to the town, for the entirety of the 2015 Annual Town Meeting,” Sullivan said. “The initial benefits include privacy, accuracy, and speed and integrity of each vote”

Sullivan explained that the devices allow an extra layer of voter privacy and eliminiates the possibility and reality of “voting under duress.” Most notably, speed is a major benefit of the devices, as town meeting voters got a first hand look at the difference in the 30-second voting window for electronic voting versus the several minutes it took for tellers to hand-count votes that were too close for a voice vote.

“We also identified an indirect benefit that more people may be encouraged to attend town meeting because it will be a more democratic process and will move along quicker,” Sullivan said.

Paul McCormack, of Partridge Road, said that, while he enjoyed using the devices, he recorded one article where the electronic vote showed a nine percent difference from the hand-count. Sullivan addressed McCormack’s concerns and said that as he was working the Help Desk on Saturday, he observed several voters immediately depositing their devices in the return bin after having been assigned them, which may have accounted for the difference between the hand-count and the electronic voting count.

Moderator Friend Weiler, Sr. said the devices would be used for every article and amendment at the 2015 town meeting in order to help voters become accustomed to the devices.

Mary Lampert offered an amendment to the article that, in addition to pursuing the use of the devices at the next town meeting, would require the committee to present a detailed explanation on how the electronic ballots would be used in the future. She also expressed a concern with the discrepancy between the hand-counts and the electronic balloting counts and said her amendment would help ease that concern.

The amendment failed to pass on the Town Meeting floor, and the original article passed, allowing the committee to pursue the use of electronic voting at the 2015 and future Town Meetings.