Joe Pato, chairman of the Recorded Voting Committee, went before the Board of Selectmen on Monday, Oct. 1, to discuss his board’s proposal to bring electronic voting to Lexington's Town Meeting.
The primary goal of the warrant article would be to change current bylaws to enable electronic voting to be adopted by Lexington over a period of time. The secondary objective of the warrant article has “no substantive changes,” according to Pato, who explained that the warrant article gives power to “clarify language and preserve the existing system” of voting in town.
Passage this warrant article would not create any electronic voting system, but rather just adopt the means to move towards electronic voting for future Town Meetings, Pato said.
Pato hopes, after a litany of town votes, system tests, approvals of the system and other factors that will come into play in the future, Lexington can have electronic voting up and running for its annual Town Meeting in 2014.
What's the Difference?
The main difference between the current voting system and the new electronic method is twofold. First, it will leave out any mistakes that could be made by people including counting of raised hands at Town Meeting. Secondly, and more importantly, the new electronic voting system will create and display a record in real-time of each vote that Town Meeting members can examine either on the spot or at a later date.
At this point of the project “there are many options how we could go forward,” Pato explained, noting the different kinds of devices, screens and ways to implement the system.
Right now, Pato and the committee aren't focusing on these details, but instead the first step in bringing electronic voting to Lexington: Changing the current voter bylaws to enable the use of electronics.
Pato also explained that these kinds of systems have been adopted by nearby communities, such as Framingham and Chelmsford, and is being studied by Arlington and other area communities.
The selectmen were more or less in favor of the idea of implementing the new system.
Selectman George Brunell stated he was “impressed” and that it adds “flexibility on how to operate a meeting.”
Selectman Hank Manz followed this up by cautioning “not everyone will be wild about this,” and having an instant record of votes in front of a room full of voters could lead to some petty grudges. However, Manz followed up that sentiment immediately with his support, saying “But will I vote for it though? Absolutely.”
Town Meeting member Joel Adler expressed his support by making the point that there are often a lot of unnoticed, blank seats when Town Meeting members decided not to show for a vote. This new system will make clear who votes and who doesn't.
For more on the changes to the bylaws concerning electronic voting, head over to the committee's website by clicking here.