Electronic Voting System in New England Town Meetings

Replace Hand, Voice and Paper with a Voting System

Never Again Count (and Recount) 2/3 Vote by Hand

Works with Open and Representative Government

Automatically & Instantly Calculate Any Quantum of Votes

Private & Anonymous Vote by Default

Count Both Yay and Nay Floor Votes in Real Time

Electronic Voting System in New England 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.

What do Town Clerks Say About TownVOTE?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the voting secure?

Yes.

U. S. House of Representatives, as well as NH House of Representatives use the system.

Scroll down to the Security section and learn more at www.meridiaars.com/security to gain confidence in our voting system. Close to fifty (50) towns in MA and hundreds of others around the U.S. and the world already did.

How do I know the voting system is working?

Follow a Test & Run Checklist.

Feel free to dive into the details and download our “Event Checklist” from the Knowledge Base.

Make sure that you test the system (best in the Grid Mode) before the meeting to be confident that you can see all clickers ‘light up’ like this:

Clicker Test - TownVOTE Participant Grid

Your Keypad Range (KR) setting, and your Participant List (PL) should be the same (or leave Keypad Range much larger). For example, the KR setting could be 1 – 400 and PL can be 1 – 400. Alternatively, you can set KR to 1 – 1000 just in case you need to rent or borrow more keypads from Meridia, or your neighbors.
(Note: Keypad Range settings are accessible from the Connect Dashboard –> Settings –> connect the base receiver –> click Refresh –> change the KR setting and click Update).

Test voting from any angle in your meeting room and test the farthest corner.

See if any clicker shows the low battery indicator (learn more about keypad notifications) and change the batteries as needed.

If you confirmed that all clickers worked for you, then the only thing left is for the voter to actually push the button and make sure they see “OK” on their keypad screen. If they don’t see the “OK” on the first try, it’s OK to push it again – only one vote will ever be cast and counted.

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.

Here are couple of examples of how the towns set up their registration tables:

Town of Rehoboth Town Meeting 2022 Registration Desks
Rehoboth Registration with PollPads

 

Seekonk Town Meeting Registration
Seekonk Registration Stations

Will everyone vote?

Unfortunately, no.

You may register 500 voters at the check-in stations, but you should expect voter participation rates will fall below the total number of clickers distributed.

Live audiences rarely pay attention 100% of the time, so expect a few participants to be out of the room, talking to a colleague, or distracted by their phone.

Other voters may be confused or undecided about the voting topic and opt not to vote as they don’t feel strongly one way or the other.

Some excited voters may try to vote before the moderator opens the voting window and some procrastinating voters may try to vote after the voting window has been closed.

While 100% voting participation can be forced by assigning devices to individuals and then calling out “John Smith“ by name for his lack of participation, the effort and time required may be a little more then most moderators are willing to pursue.

See our answer to “How do I know the voting system is working?” to learn more about what you can do to be confident in your voting system, and to educate voters on how to use it effectively and make them confident also.

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.

Are the votes recorded anonymously?

Yes. If you want it to be.

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

How do voters know the voting system is working?

Explain How Voting Works. Provide a Test Question.

It’s very important, especially if this is your town’s first Town Meeting with voting clickers that you explain how the system works. The introduction/instructions and a test question (or two) go a VERY LONG WAY toward trusting the system, and ease and speed of the voting process.

You can use (and customize) this sample presentation with instructions on how to use the Town Meeting voting clicker:

Also see this article about keypad notifications and feel free to use the images from it for your custom instructions.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to leave the test vote with “Test Your Clickers” open while the registration is in progress, so that people walking into the Town Meeting can push a button and see that the vote has been counted.

Do the keypads have any ADA-compatible features for visually impaired?

Yes.

Meridia can now offer a portion of the keypads in your order to be ADA-compatible. Click the Get a Quote button above, or call us at 610-260-6800 to learn more.

The keypads can be configured to make a sound when the button is pressed and we offer a special design of the EZ-VOTE 10 keypad with Yes/No/Abstain buttons enhanced by Braille (raised) symbols.

EZ-VOTE ADA Compatible Clicker for Visually Impaired
Click the image for larger version

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.

Can I split the audience into multiple voting areas?

Yes.

We can accommodate multiple rooms easily. 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.

Do you need to split your voters into more than two rooms? Ask us how it’s done and what logistical accommodations do we use for those scenarios.

Town Meeting Photos & Videos

Wenham, MA

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

Berlin, MA

Berlin Town Meeting Electronic Voting System

See how Town of Berlin used the TownVOTE software to collect anonymous, votes and prevent ‘herd mentality’ at their town meeting.

Lunenburg, MA

Town of Lunenburg used their clicker voting system for the first time and loved how the 2/3 votes were instantly declared and displayed.

Ipswich, MA

Ipswich used their voting system for the first time in May 2022 and was satisfied with the clear, instantaneous voting results shown on the screen.

Get a Quote Button

Ever-Growing List of New England Towns Using Our Voting System

46 Towns and Counting…

Leicester Massachusetts Town Seal

Leicester, MA
Debbie Davis

Stow Town Seal

Stow, MA
Linda Hathaway

Sterling Massachusetts Town Seal

Sterling, MA
Fred Aponte

Rutland Massachusetts Town Seal

Rutland, MA
Anita Carlson

Town of Lanesborough, MA Seal

Lanesborough, MA
Gordon Hubbard

Charlton Massachusetts Town Seal

Charlton, MA
Karen LaCroix

Town of Uxbridge Logo Seal Black & White

Uxbridge, MA
Kelly Cote

Town of Bellingham, MA Seal

Bellingham, MA
Larry Sposato

Town of Hamilton, MA Seal

Hamilton, MA
Laurie Wilson

Wenham Town Seal Color

Wenham, MA
Nicole Roebuck

Town of Lunenburg, MA Seal

Lunenburg, MA
Kathryn Herrick

Town of Boylston, MA Seal

Boylston, MA
Dawn Porter

Town of Lancaster, MA Seal

Lancaster, MA
Lisa Johnson

Town of Princeton, MA Seal

Princeton, MA
Nathan Boudreau