Town Meeting moves toward electronic voting

Oct 19, 2016

The 214 voters present at the October 18 Town Meeting were each issued a remote as part of an electronic voting trial run.

The remotes and accompanying technology — provided by Florida-based company Option Technologies — were the first phase in moving away from a traditional hand count.

A green light at the head of the room signaled when the 30-second voting window had begun — although that time period can be and was shortened to 20 seconds — and meeting members could choose between (1) yes, (2) no, or (3) abstain.

Voters performed both a hand vote and an electronic vote for several questions during the free test run before returning the remotes to the company.

When the window closed, voters' names and responses appeared on a screen in the front of the room. Individual votes are exposed because Town Meeting members act as a representative body for residents.

"I like it. I'm certainly in favor of it because it's easier to use, and, as Town Meeting members, we're responsible to the people we represent," said voter Matt Sylvain of Precinct No. 8.

When the company moved to gather remotes, a collective groan of disappointment rang through the Dartmouth Middle auditorium, where Town Meeting was held.

Town Moderator Melissa Haskell was not immediately available to comment on how soon electronic voting could replace the traditional method, nor on how much it would cost the town to implement.