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

43 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

Town of Sturbridge, MA Seal

Sturbridge, MA
Lynne Girouard

Berlin Massachusetts Town Seal

Berlin, MA
Margaret Nartowicz

Town of Holden, MA Seal

Holden, MA
Jeanne Hudson

Lee Massachusetts Town Seal

Lee, MA
Christopher Brittain

Conway Massachusetts Town Seal

Conway, MA
Laurie Lucier

South Hadley Massachusetts Town Seal

South Hadley, MA
James Doolitlle

Orange Massachusetts Town Seal

Orange, MA
Nancy Blackmer

Northbridge Massachusetts Town Seal

Northbridge, MA
Linda Zywien

Ware Massachusetts Town Seal

Ware, MA
Kathleen Galford

Town of Raynham, MA Logo Seal - Color

Raynham, MA
Marsha Sylvia

Bolton Massachusetts Town Seal

Bolton, MA
Ninotchka Rogers

Rehoboth Massachusetts Town Seal

Rehoboth, MA
Laura Schwall

Westwood Massachusetts Town Seal

Westwood, MA
Dottie Powers

Seekonk Massachusetts Town Seal

Seekonk, MA
Florice Craig

Dedham Massachusetts Town Seal

Dedham, MA
Paul Munchbach

Warren Massachusetts Town Seal

Warren, MA
Nancy Lowell

Blackstone Massachusetts Town Seal

Blackstone, MA
Dori Vecchio

Carver Massachusetts Town Seal

Carver, MA
Cara Dahill

Longmeadow Massachusetts Town Seal

Longmeadow, MA
Lyn Simmons

Casco Maine Town Seal

Casco, ME
Anthony Ward

Hull Massachusetts Town Seal

Hull, MA
Lori West

Ipswich Massachusetts Town Seal

Ipswich, MA
Anthony Marino

Aquinnah Massachusetts Town Seal

Aquinnah, MA
Mike Hebert

Bourne Massachusetts Town Seal

Bourne, MA
Barry Johnson

Mendon Massachusetts Town Seal

Mendon, MA
Ellen Agro

Sudbury Massachusetts Town Seal

Sudbury, MA
Beth Klein

Georgetown Massachusetts Town Seal

Georgetown, MA
Kerri McManus

Naples, ME Town Seal - Black

Naples, ME
John Hawley

New Marlborough Massachusetts Town Seal

New Marlborough, MA
Barry Shapiro

Coming Onboard Soon

Town of Westford Massachusetts Town Seal

Westford, MA – Angela Harkness

Town of Carlisle Massachusetts Town Seal

Carlisle, MA – Wayne Davis

Town of Wilbraham Massachusetts Town Seal

Wilbraham, MA – Debbie Brennan

In the News

Future Events

August 6, 2022

Meridia will come back to Rehoboth, MA to provide on-site support for their Special Town meeting where over 1,000 residents are expected to come and vote.

Past Events

June 11, 2022

Meridia helped the Town of Westford, MA to modernize their Town Meeting with EZ-VOTE town meeting clickers. The town approved the voting system and will be using it in their future meetings.

June 8 – 10, 2022

Meridia attended the MTCA Spring Conference in Plymouth, MA. Thank you all for stopping by, saying hi and demoing the town meeting voting system in person.

May 31, 2022

Town of Blackstone used the EZ-VOTE clickers and TownVOTE software for the first time with much success.

May 16, 2022

Dedham and Holden had their town meetings and Meridia will be providing on-site service so they can focus on running it.

May 14, 2022

Town of Rehoboth bought 2,000 of the Meridia clickers and we helped them collect the votes from two or three different locations to make sure everyone’s vote is counted.

May 10, 2022

We provided an on-site support to run the TownVOTE software for the towns of Longmeadow and Holden to make sure that their Town Meeting went off flawlessly.

May 9, 2022

Town of Seekonk had us on site to make sure that all the votes are counted from two adjacent rooms during their annual Town Meeting.

May 6, 2022

Lunenburg and Mendon both needed help with their first time running TownVOTE at their Town Meeting. With the ability to count and declare an instant 2/3 Majority, we were done in no time!

May 2, 2022

We will be helping multiple towns in Massachusetts (Westwood, Hull, Sterling, and Bourne) with setting up and running their Town Meetings.

April 12, 2022

Town of Carver implemented the town meeting voting system for the first time and Meridia was there to guide them. It was a record meeting – with over 500 in attendance and very contentious Warrant articles being debated and decided on.

March 21, 2022

Meridia was on site for the Town of Lancaster, MA special town meeting to collect votes from multiple rooms, simplify, and speed up the voting process.

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.
Get a Quote Button
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.

Anonymous Voting - No Grid Motion Passed
TownVOTE can anonymize the results. Show just the summary of the Motion, Subtotals and Totals and an instant Pass/Fail status after the vote is closed.
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
$
$$
$$$
$$$$
LEARN MORE
LEARN MORE
LEARN MORE
LEARN MORE
Capterra