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Electronic Voting Implementation Subcommittee to discuss remote voting at December 12 meeting

Questions regarding remote voting and other means of participating in town meeting without being present in the assembly have come up over the last several years. About 3 years ago I asked the ELVIS committee to look into the problems, potentials and possibilities of remote voting, or voting from home here in Wayland. The committee has discussed the topic from time to time but to this date has not settled on any system that meets all the requirements which they feel necessary.

Of course, at present, Massachusetts law does not allow for any town meeting voting except in the traditional manner, that is by personal attendance at the meeting, which with certain safeguards may be held in more than one room. Thus, at the moment no means of individual remote voting is permitted. Nevertheless, there has been interest expressed by some legislators about ways to ameliorate this for certain groups and to take advantage of modern technology.

Recently, the Massachusetts Moderators Association has dealt with the subject in an interim report of the “Town Meeting 2040” Committee. That report can be accessed online here.

In discussion of this report before the Moderator’s Association annual meeting its authors emphasized that the deliberative nature of town meeting was paramount and needed to be upheld. Town meeting is not and cannot be allowed to become an election. Participation is important and a necessary element. At the same time, they recognized that some people find it impossible or very difficult to attend town meeting and there is value in finding some way to allow this group to participate remotely.

The ELVIS Committee has been individually reviewing and as a committee will be discussing that report at an open public meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 12 in the Selectman’s meeting room. The public is invited to participate, comment, discuss and ask questions regarding the report and in general discuss the topic of remote voting at town meeting.

Dennis Berry

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