Electronic Voting System in Massachusetts Town Meetings

Replace Hand, Voice and Paper with a Voting System

Enforce Bylaws & Majority Rules

Private & Anonymous Vote by Default

Take a Single Vote for Both ``Yay`` and ``Nay``

Electronic Voting System in Massachusetts Town Meetings

New England Town Meetings often referred to as a true town meeting are universally recognized as the purest form of democracy. Throughout Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island, towns and communities call upon their citizens to come together in a formal setting to debate, discuss, and decide on matters that impact their lives and communities.

Prior to each meeting, a small board of elected “selectmen” which are essentially the executive arm of Government in New England towns, publish a Warrant, which is an agenda of important items to be voted on during the town meeting. Traditionally, town meeting participants have used voice, paper or hand votes to approve or disapprove of the Warrant items, however in today’s modern town meetings, many communities are quickly adopting electronic voting technology to accurately count the votes and calculate if an item has passed or failed.

Case Studies

Town of Leicester

Town of Leicester needed to socially distance over 800 voters in a 80,000-sq foot facility.

Town of Sterling

Town of Sterling needed to have their town meeting at an air strip, where residents would vote from inside their cars.

Town of Stow

Town of Stow was forced to split their voters into two separate spaces, about 150 feet apart.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have a meeting outdoors?

Yes.

There have been many Town Meetings during the Pandemic that took place outside. Just ask towns like Orange, Sterling, Stow, Lancaster, or even New Hampshire House of Representatives who all held their meetings at airports, parking lots, baseball fields, and other odd places.

Is the voting secure?

Yes.

Scroll down to the Security section and learn more at www.meridiaars.com/security to gain confidence in our voting system. More than two dozen towns in MA and many others around the U.S. already did.

How do you distribute keypads to the voters?

It’s an individual decision.

Feel free to contact us (click the Get Quote button, call, or email us) and based on your specific meeting venue, number of people, and your voter registration process, we can recommend the best way to do it.

Normally, the towns in Massachusetts do not assign keypads to individuals, so that the voting can be truly anonymous, but they might note the clicker number so that they can track it down if it is missing.

You can put the clicker inside the ‘voter registration packet’ if there is one given out at the door.

COVID-19 precautions also caused a lot of changes, so a sanitizing station(s) might be necessary, and you will most likely have more registration stations than usual, so that you can accommodate the social-distancing requirements.

Is it possible to split the audience into two voting areas?

Yes.

Towns like Stow and Raynham had to split their audience into indoor (gym and/or cafeteria) and outdoor (baseball field) in order to fit all the participants into the Town Meeting.

Is the voting anonymous?

Yes.

The TownVOTE software can be configured to only show what you need to see – the subtotal of Yes and No votes, and a total of votes received. We also recommend that you hide the subtotals until after the vote is closed to prevent ‘herd mentality‘.

Anonymous Voting - No Grid Motion Passed

What happens if we lose some keypads?

No problem. You’ll disable them.

See the Security section a bit lower on this page for more details, but part of the software security configuration is the fact that you are able to define a segment of the keypad range that the base receiver (antenna) will recognize and it will not allow any keypad outside of this range to vote.

Similarly, on a granular level, you can disable an individual keypad, or keypads. That way, if it is lost, or someone just forgot to return it, but it might be in someone’s pocket at the next meeting, you can disable it and the keypad will never be able to submit a ‘rogue’ vote that you did not authorize.

Town Meeting Photos & Videos

Town of Wenham, MA

See how Town of Wenham used the TownVOTE software to show how each individual voted, mimicking the typical, identifiable hand-raising vote.

Town of Berlin, MA

Berlin Town Meeting Electronic Voting System

See how Town of Berlin used the TownVOTE software to collect anonymous, honest, and unbiased votes from their residents.

Ever-Growing List of Towns Using Our Voting System

Leicester Massachusetts Town Seal

Leicester, MA – Kristine Forsberg

Stow Town Seal

Stow, MA – Deb Seith

Sterling MA seal color

Sterling, MA – Fred Aponte

Rutland Massachusetts Town Seal

Rutland, MA – Anita Carlson

Town of Lanesborough, MA Seal

Lanesborough, MA – Gordon Hubbard

Town of Charlton Seal Color

Charlton, MA – Karen LaCroix

Town of Uxbridge Logo Seal Black & White

Uxbridge, MA – Kelly Dumas

Town of Bellingham, MA Seal

Bellingham, MA – Anna Odabashian

Town of Hamilton, MA Seal

Hamilton, MA – Tim Olson

Wenham Town Seal Color

Wenham, MA – Nicole Roebuck

Town of Lunenburg, MA Seal

Lunenburg, MA – Kathryn Herrick

Town of Boylston, MA Seal

Boylston, MA – April Steward

Town of Lancaster, MA Seal

Lancaster, MA – Melissa Pelletier

Town of Princeton, MA Seal

Princeton, MA – Nathan Boudreau

Town of Sturbridge, MA Seal

Sturbridge, MA – Lynne Girouard

Town of Berlin, MA Seal

Berlin, MA – Margaret Nartowics

Town of Holden, MA Seal

Holden, MA – Jeanne Hudson

Town of Lee, MA Logo Seal Black & White

Lee, MA – Christopher Britain

Town of Conway, MA Seal Logo Black & White

Conway, MA – Laurie Lucier

Town of South Hadley, MA Seal Logo Black & White

South Hadley, MA – James Doolitlle

Town of Orange Logo Seal Black & White

Orange, MA – Chris Woodcock

Town of Northbridge Logo Seal - Color

Northbridge, MA – Linda Zywien

Town of Ware Logo Seal - Black & White

Ware, MA – Kathleen Coulombe

Town of Raynham, MA Logo Seal - Color

Raynham, MA – Marsha Sylvia

Town of Bolton, MA Logo Seal

Bolton, MA – Ninotchka Rogers

Coming Onboard Soon

Town of Seekonk, MA Logo Seal

Seekonk, MA – Florice Craig

Town of Rehoboth, MA Seal Logo

Rehoboth, MA – Laura Schwall

Town of Dedham, MA Color Seal Logo

Dedham, MA – Leon Goodwin

Town of Westwood, MA Color Seal Logo

Westwood, MA – Dottie Powers

Town of Blackstone Seal Logo

Blackstone, MA – Dori Vecchio

In the News

June 22, 2021

Town of Orange had a serious question on their ballot at this year’s Annual Town Meeting – whether a Town Clerk should be appointed, instead of an elected position.

Meeting & Voting Security Best Practices

Everyone involved in a town meeting, from the participants to the organizers need to do their part in ensuring that the voting is secure, accountable and accurate.
Meridia provides a highly-secure system that works completely offline and can be configured to your needs, thus it cannot be accessed from the outside and can accommodate your specific event. As a meeting organizer, you need to make sure that the vote happens in a secure environment.

Visit our Electronic Voting Security page for full details. Here are a few highlights on how to make the meeting and especially the voting as secure as possible.

What Meridia System Offers

  • Proprietary Radio Frequency (RF) protocol with multiple layers of security checks ensures that no one is listening.

  • The close-circuit nature of the system and relatively short range means that only the people in the immediate vicinity of the system can vote.

  • You can ask that we ship the system so that only specific keypads can work with the pre-configured base receiver (antenna).

  • Lost clicker can be prevented from voting by removing it from the (required) participant list.

  • The software allows for keypads to be assigned to individuals, while still keeping the vote results anonymous.

What You Need to Know

  • Distribute keypads from a controlled location. Secure the remaining/undistributed keypads to prevent theft.

  • Secure the perimeter of the voting area. Make sure no unauthorized persons are in it.

  • Control the movement of voters in and out of the voting area. Collect keypads when they leave.

  • Make sure your computer running the Meridia software is up-to-date and secure.

  • Teach the audience on how to use the system and test it with them so they are confident in using it.

We recommend that you create a Checklist of things you need to do before each meeting and that you designate staff that will be responsible for each element/task. You can base your version of the Checklist on ours – find it in the Knowledge Base.

Large Meetings & Strange Venues

Large Venues

Having a meeting inside a large venue can be intimidating and requires careful planning. Especially when it comes to electronic voting systems, you should consider consulting with, or even hiring on-site technical support.

With advanced antenna arrays, even an area of 80,000 square feet with two levels where voters in Town of Leicester, MA could freely seat themselves observing all COVID-19 restrictions can be covered easily and securely.

Leicester Town Meeting Electronic Voting Systems
Leicester Town Meeting Two-Story 80,000 Sq/F Warehouse

Strange Spaces

With our Extended-Range Base Receiver, we can cover a large area (like an airport field in Town of Sterling, MA) as well as accommodate up to 2,000 voters. With multiple receivers, we can easily handle up to 16,000 total participants.

In some of our meetings, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we had to split the audience into two sections (like in Town of Stow, MA) – inside and outside, and bring all votes together as if they were sitting all in one room.

Contactless Drive In Voting Sterling Massachusetts
Holding a town meeting at an airport has its long-distance challenges.
Electronic Voting Systems - EXTended Range Base Receiver
Extended-Range Base Receiver covers a larger area and up to 2,000 voters.
TownVOTE council electronic voting system

TownVOTE

TownVOTE is a simple, yet powerful electronic election software for your town meetings. It features an adjustable-size voting grid and indication of each vote, so you and your residents know that their votes have been counted.

Article/Motion summary as well as the Pass/Fail status of each vote is shown for everyone to see, providing clear view and complete transparency to your voting process. Reports consist of raw data in Excel format and actual, indisputable screenshots of what the voting grid looked like when polling was closed.

You have full control over whether to show voters’ names, or keep everything anonymous; whether to show the vote’s progress in real-time, or only at the end of the vote to prevent ‘herd mentality‘.

User can pre-enter the questions based on the Town Meeting Warrant schedule and simply call them up in the order they were entered, or easily skip around in any order that becomes necessary.

If a motion is entered from the floor, or an amendment needs to be entered ad-hoc, just duplicate any existing topic or enter a new one in just two clicks and go right back to voting.

Electronic Voting System
TownVOTE provides a visual record of every vote. Click for larger image.
TownVOTE Anonymous Voting Grid - Votes Hidden
You can choose to only show that a keypad voted, but don't show who it is and how they voted. Click for a larger image.

Purchase Our Clickers

All Meridia wireless audience response clickers have dedicated Yes/No/Abstain buttons and display for enhanced vote confirmation increasing voters’ confidence in the system and clearly confirming their activity.

Choose your clicker based on battery life, size, display or range.

EZ-VOTE 5
EZ-VOTE 10
EZ-VOTE HD
EZ-VOTE PRO
Coin-Cell Batteries
(6-12 mo life)
Coin-Cell Batteries
(6-12 mo life)
AAA Batteries
(up to 4 year life)
AAA Batteries
(up to 4 year life)
5 voting buttons
10 voting buttons
10 voting buttons
13 voting buttons
$
$$
$$$
$$$$
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