With summer rapidly approaching, New England towns have been hard at work assembling to vote during their annual and special town meetings. Once a year (and sometimes more) towns across Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut come together in a formal setting to discuss, debate, and decide on matters that impact their lives and communities. While 2023 has seen many of these towns returning to more typical pre-pandemic meeting locations, we’ve continued to provide the support and flexibility to handle voting sessions of all sizes, and in a variety of unique locations both indoors and outdoors. No matter the circumstances, we’ve provided the hardware, software, and technical support to ensure that every voice was heard, and every vote counted.
Since April, over 20 Massachusetts towns have conducted their meetings with the help of Meridia’s TownVOTE software and voting keypads during this year’s town meeting season. These include the towns of Dedham, Leicester, Princeton, Westwood, Raynham, Westford, Sterling, Belchertown, Hamilton, Carver, Hull, Longmeadow, Lunenburg, Ipswitch, Chadham, Carlisle, and many others. The simplicity of the voting keypads and software allowed each of these towns to streamline their voting processes, greatly improving the speed and efficiency of the meetings. The town of Sterling’s meeting on May 2nd was a particularly speedy one, where forty motions were successfully completed in just over two hours – an unprecedented level of speed when compared to the lengthy, drawn out meetings of the past! The town of Leicester expected their meeting to last two days, but after a lengthy debate and a few contentious articles, opted to suspend their meeting to a later date. Other towns, like Belchertown, utilized a combination of voice votes and keypads to maximize the fluidity of the meeting.
Towns like Carlisle, Ipswich, Seekonk and others set up the voting system in two rooms, just in case they get a surge of voters who come to voice their opinion, and vote on the more contentious issues. Meridia’s system allows them to move freely from room to room without changing the configuration of the clickers or issuing new ones.
Town of Rehoboth is lucky to have a special venue – a beautiful, historic farm with multiple buildings where they had permanently installed the voting system in a way that just requires the computer and the receivers to be plugged directly into the intranet built into their walls. This way, they can have over 600 people in one building and another 400+ in another one about 150ft away.
In the coming weeks Bolton, Blackstone, Brimfield, and many others will soon join them as spring Town Meeting season draws to a close and towns finalize and vote on their budgets, whether or not to purchase snow removal, fire and police department equipment, approve or disapprove changes in their bylaws, or whether to allow certain type of development in their towns.
We love the direct, honest, anonymous democracy that many of the Massachusetts towns have been exercising since the late 17th century.