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.
Town of Dedham,
Our first time using an electronic voting system was awesome! Everyone loved the clickers; it's the talk of the town!
Owner of a 300-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
Town of Sturbridge,
At my last town meeting, the clickers saved me. We had many motions with a 2/3 majority. With the TownVOTE system, it was calculated instantly even with over 1,000 people. In the past, these kinds of meetings would spill into many hours.
Owner of a 1,000-keypad system
Town of Warren,
Everything at our first town meeting with the electronic voting system went great. Everyone liked seeing the results immediately. Having the clickers cut off at least an hour of the meeting.
Owner of a 300-keypad system
Town of Seekonk,
Overwhelmingly, Seekonk voters loved the voting devices!!! Positive comments have been coming in all day. Voters especially liked being able to vote anonymously. One resident said that our first town meeting with the clickers was the best and most productive in 50 years he's been coming to them.
Owner of a 800-keypad system
Town of Rehoboth,
Nicely done – you are providing Massachusetts voters, young and old, with the technology that makes our town government even more successful ~ thank you!
Owner of a 2,000-keypad system
Town of Stow,
Everybody thought the clickers were great. The indoor and outdoor votes were captured simultaneously and tallied in seconds—which wouldn’t have been possible if we had been voting in a traditional manner.
Owner of a 300-keypad system
Town of Wenham,
The value of EZ-VOTE was evident immediately. Everyone in town knew how long votes usually took, but with EZ-VOTE we had a complete and accurate vote count in, literally, 30 seconds. And even when the vote was close there was no question about its accuracy. There were no calls for hand recounts that could have taken half an hour to complete.
Owner of a 750-keypad system
Town of Sterling,
In the past, counting hands or colored cards took time. If there was a close vote or a contested vote that demanded a recount or prompted a call for an actual paper ballot, that could easily take 20 minutes or more per vote. With the wireless clickers and EZ-VOTE, the votes could be captured, counted, and presented in seconds. The numbers were exact, and there was no question about how things were decided.
Owner of a 450-keypad system
Town of Leicester,
The first time people used Meridia’s EZ-VOTE system in a town meeting, they go so excited. They were thrilled with the remotes. They were simple to use. People could see the questions on the screen in the front of the room and knew which button to push to cast their vote. The pressure was gone, and people could vote the way they wanted to—and then they could see the results on the screen in seconds.
Owner of a 720-keypad system
Town of Uxbridge,
From the perspective of the people trying the systems, it came down to the keypads. Everyone preferred the keypad from Meridia Interactive, which has a screen that confirms both how you voted and confirms that your vote was counted. The other ARS system keypad didn't have a screen and didn't provide this feedback, which was very important to our residents. They really wanted to know that the system was accurately capturing their votes.
Owner of a 1,000-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
Is the voting secure?
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:
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:
Will everyone vote?
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?
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‘.
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?
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.
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?
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.
See how Town of Wenham used the TownVOTE software to show how each individual voted, mimicking the typical, identifiable hand-raising vote.
See how Town of Berlin used the TownVOTE software to collect anonymous, votes and prevent ‘herd mentality’ at their town meeting.
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 used their voting system for the first time in May 2022 and was satisfied with the clear, instantaneous voting results shown on the screen.
South Hadley, MA
New Marlborough, MA
Westford, MA – Angela Harkness
Carlisle, MA – Wayne Davis
Wilbraham, MA – Debbie Brennan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.