Even in the smallest municipalities, the meetings of a governing body can sometimes feel like controlled chaos.
Along with motions, proposed changes, public commentary and the final vote, it’s often challenging for a harried clerk to keep everything in order and – most importantly – legal.
This becomes especially important in the municipal meetings of many New England states, where tradition holds that any citizen of a community may show up and vote for resolutions before the governing body. In a meeting that could potentially include up to 1,000 voters, how does a municipality ensure that votes are correct?
The old – and often inaccurate – way was to hand count votes for and against. It’s easy to see how, in a room crowded with voters who felt passionate enough to show up to a city council meeting, getting an accurate vote could be nearly impossible.
In addition, there’s the potential of fraud if someone from outside the community decides to show up and vote.
Fortunately, electronic voting systems have developed to the point where such quaint techniques can be phased out in favor of more accurate, reliable and secure voting processes.
For instance, new electronic voting systems like Meridia’s TownVote can now track and display for all to see motions, amendments and the names of speakers, even limiting opportunities to speak to those who are on the agenda or who pre-registered for the event. Additional security comes from the system’s closed-loop radio frequency connection, eliminating the risk of outside interference over the internet.
When it’s time for elected leaders to vote, those vote results are instantly tabulated and displayed, as well. Such systems can even be set up to determine whether a motion passes based on various vote percentages, such as a two-thirds majority or simple majority.