Discussion of best governance practices for voting at Town Meeting underway

Town Administrator Michael Dennehy makes a point during an August Select Board meeting.

(Photo by Barry Nelson)

At Town Meetings in the future, voting could be as easy as the press of a button or two. In fact, a trial vote on a trial question could come as early as Town Meeting in May.

The Select Board on Sept 25 encouraged the Electronic Voting Committee to continue its quest to introduce a measure allowing voting by electronic device.

The board urged the committee to prepare an article for the January Special Town Meeting and look into getting a free trial of the electronic voting technology as soon as the May Town Meeting.

Select Board Secretary Tony Farrington made it clear that he supports the electronic voting “100 percent.”

“If we are able to put this in place for one night, the technology will sell itself,” he said.

Farrington said this would accomplish accountability and efficiencies.

The move came as Electronic Voting Committee chair Frank Schroth came before the board to say that the committee supports implementing the electronic voting but was not going to recommend that it move forward due to current stress in the town’s budget.

The committee had solicited bids from four technology providers and determined that the cost for leasing the technology would be roughly $6,500 to $7,000 for a three-night town meeting.

The cost for purchasing it was between $16,000 and $35,000, Schroth said.

Select Board member Katie Conlon suggested that the funding could be considered through the town’s “free cash” account that allows one-time purchases.

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