Chicago City Council took a great leap forward into the modern age when they used electronic voting for the first time during their March meeting. So how does the city’s new voting system compare to what we offer?
The council opted for a cloud-based system developed by a Chicago software company, marking the final chapter of a decades-long tradition of voice-and-hand voting. All the voting was done via personal tablets, which required a Wi-Fi based login before they could be used during the meeting. Once connected, they were able to make their choice and instantly see the results on screen.
Reportedly, the cost of the Chicago’s new voting system was $500,000. Compare that to under $10,000 for Meridia’s 300-person, secure, offline EZ-VOTE voting system! It’s only going to get cheaper if you need less clickers, but it’s not going to break your back when you need 1,000 or more.
While Internet-connected devices and cloud based systems are acceptable for some organizations, many insist their voting systems are completely offline. They prefer the security and reliability of a local, closed-circuit, self-contained system that is inaccessible from the outside world. A local voting system communicates via a offline, close-ended, short-range radio frequency (RF) signal and/or hard-wired connection. Therefore, the transmission and data never leaves the voting room. Internet-based systems such as the one used by the Chicago City Council sends votes out of the Chambers and into the Cloud to be counted, calculated, and recorded.
The Chicago City Council also chose to use a multi-function device such as a tablet over a dedicated, voting-only device such as a voting clicker. While tablets can install voting apps to enable voting functionality, their ability to do many different things increases the complexity of their use. For example, tablets require users to first turn them on, connect to the internet, then navigate to the voting app and finally complete the login process before actually placing their vote. With voting clickers, only a single button press is required. It has been reported that some alderpeople particularly had trouble with connecting to the network and the login process, but with Tech Support on standby, they were able to help them acclimate to the system. In addition, some were less experienced with navigating the custom touch-screen interface.
Ultimately, Chicago’s new voting system is a great first step for the council entering a new, modern era; however, a strictly cloud-based system might not be necessary for the Council’s needs. While voting tablets allow for great flexibility when voting in multiple locations, they are also bound by Wi-Fi and may be more cumbersome to use for people who are less technologically savvy.
Meridia voting clickers can provide a simple, easy and much less expensive way to accommodate the voting audience. Clients can even customize the clickers to feature their logo and design, or to further streamline the voting by only showing the Yes/No buttons, or to include a Braille-enhanced keyboard for the hard-of-seeing and blind voters.
FAA Managers Association,
The software is very easy to use and the support after the sale is beyond belief. Tech Support took the time after resolving my issue to maximize my use of the software by providing an impromptu tour and setup of the voting application, gave me several suggestions to optimize its performance. On another occasion, when I left a voicemail on the Support line at 6:30am, I received a callback in 5 minutes and they calmly walked me through the solution to my problem.
If you go with Meridia in your next audience response/electronic voting purchase, you will get a product that works and support that is the best I've ever worked with.
Owner of a 40-keypad system
Town of Warren,
Just wanted you to know that everything went great! Thank you so much for your help these past few days. 32 articles and it was done in 1 hour! 😀 I never dreamed I'd be home for Monday night football, but I'm not complaining!
Owner of a 300-keypad system
Eastern Regional Conference - Churches of God,
Today was an absolute dream! We had 30 nominees and had to pick 27 of them using the clickers. What normally takes hours on paper, took 45 minutes with the clickers! We can’t thank you enough!
Rental Client - 350 Clickers
Adams County, WI,
Your voting system was such a joy to use. Compared to the 'old ways', it was much less stress for me, much quicker for the voters, and I love the comprehensive reporting!
Owner of a 20-keypad system
R. Christopher Brittain
Town of Lee,
We are a representative government, so we show how each representative voted instantly after the vote is closed, which saves a lot of time manually counting each vote. We also no longer have to vote for "Yea" and "Nay" separately. Our constituents like that they can see (in-person or over Zoom/broadcast) how their rep voted and whether they represent them well.
Owner of a 400-keypad system
City of Wellington,
Ever since Meridia's TownVOTE voting system replaced the hand and voice votes, when we livestream our business meeting, it makes it easy for councilors, staff and any members of the public to see and understand exactly how a councilor has voted and exactly what they are voting on. It adds so much clarity to the meetings, and it saves a lot of time over any voting confusion. The audience is especially pleased about the added accessibility features.
Owner of a 20-keypad system
Paul C. Smith
NH House of Representatives,
Meridia clickers are easy to use, and their software can be operated effectively. We export the data and make it work with our proprietary software back at the State House. Meridia’s pricing, training, and support are wonderful, and I am glad to have worked with them.
Owner of a 500-keypad system
U.S. House of Representatives,
The use of an electronic voting system helps us process the full markup votes among the 50+ members — accurately — in less than two minutes. By comparison, it used to take us 10 minutes to vote on a single item.
Owner of a 100-keypad system
Town of Kentville,
TownVOTE has been great! We needed something straightforward and simple for a single purpose and this was it! Support was been great and we haven’t needed to even change a battery in three years!
Owner of a 20-keypad system
Town of Rutland,
We could not be more happy with the purchase of our new Meridia software and keypads. We needed something fast and reliable for our first ever outdoor Town Meeting. Every step of the process with Meridia was exceptional. From the set up, to the customer service, to the product itself was so easy and user friendly! I would absolutely recommend Meridia.
Owner of a 500-keypad EZ-VOTE 5 system
United States Conference Of Catholic Bishops,
The Catholic Bishops gather once a year to unify, coordinate, encourage, promote and carry on Catholic activities in the United States; to organize and conduct religious, charitable and social welfare work at home and abroad; to aid in education; to care for immigrants; and generally to enter into and promote by education, publication and direction the objects of its being. During this conference we use the Meridia electronic voting system to vote on key issues affecting the church in addition to position elections.
3-year rental customer (600-keypad annual election)
Meridia’s electronic voting technology has been used during our annual election since 2008. The system is reliable, fast, and auditable. Our election ranges from 3,000 – 5,000 attendees and the voting technology routinely collects each and every vote, while also allowing us to restrict certain blocks of the audience when they are not allowed to participate.
5-year rental customer(2,000 to 4,500-keypad annual election)
The National Auctioneers Association,
The NAA has used the Meridia electronic election system for the past three years of our annual election of our Board of Directors. The validity of the election results is critical to both the NAA staff and to our members and your system has never failed us. Your voting system has allowed us to streamline our election process and reduce the timing of our business meeting which has always been a struggle, especially when faced with a run-off situation of an open position.
3-year rental customer (500-keypad annual election)
Kelly J. Cote
Town of Uxbridge, MA,
I purchased Meridia’s EZ-VOTE system and used it at our Fall Town Hall Meeting. It went very well. Everyone there loved it! I didn’t receive one complaint. I have given Meridia’s information out to several other communities and would highly recommend their system for any live voting event.
Owner of a 1,000-keypad EZ-VOTE 5 system
Alpha Omicron Pi,
The clickers we bought are so helpful when it comes to voting during our meeting. Meridia Support has been super helpful with any questions that I have had and has helped get me the new updated version of the software.
Owner of a 100-keypad EZ-VOTE 5 system
Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board,
The Meridia EZ-VOTE system is excellent. Our board members are regularly bragging to other sites who still use raised hand tallies.
Owner of a 50-keypad EZ-VOTE 10 system