Electronic voting, check-in coming to TM

Oct 12, 2017 by

Published in the October 11, 2017 edition

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — A new feature will be coming to Town Meeting on Oct. 16.

During last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Clerk Trudy Reid announced Turning Technologies will be demonstrating electronic voting at Town Meeting.

“As voters check in, they will be given a clicker which will allow them to vote electronically on warrant articles,” said Reid. “No name is linked to the device. The device is a single event use clicker keypad designed specifically for a meeting. The device uses reliable radio frequency technology. The vendor will be assisting with the process.”

In response to a question from Selectmen Chairman Chris Barrett, Reid said residents will be able to see the results of the 14 warrant articles on a screen. She noted Town Moderator Arthur Bourque was not in favor of electronic voting at Town Meeting until observing it at Rockport’s Town Meeting recently.

“It does speed it up a little bit,” said Reid.

Reid also said there will be an electronic check-in demonstrated by LHS Associates. She noted the company showed the product to town clerks from around the North Shore at an event held in Lynnfield recently. She said North Reading’s October Town Meeting used an electronic check-in process last week.

“The product has also been used by many Massachusetts town and city clerks for their spring Town Meeting check-in as well as check-in for early voting last year,” said Reid. “The vendor will use the same voter list provided by the town clerk as would be used if a paper report was used for check-in. The check-in list will be electronic, which will allow the voter to check in at any station, eliminating the need for alphabetical lines.”

As part of the check-in process, Reid said, “Each time a resident is checked in, the voter’s list will automatically update on all stations in real time.” Reid said residents will be able to check in using their driver’s license as well.

“This is one way to accelerate the check-in process,” said Reid.

If people choose to use their driver’s license, Reid said residents should have their license “ready to hold up in front of the poll pad.” Reid also said residents can still check in by stating their name and address. “Either way, checking into Town Meeting will be faster and easier,” said Reid.

Reid noted the start time for October Town Meeting is 7 p.m. at Lynnfield Middle School on Monday, Oct. 16. She encouraged residents to arrive between 6-6:45 p.m. in order to ensure Town Meeting will be able to reach the 175 voter quorum.

Selectman Phil Crawford expressed his support for the initiative. “The report I got on the electronic voting that was observed is it would have saved us an hour at our last Town Meeting,” said Crawford. “It was a meeting that was certainly longer than normal, but this is something that would certainly be welcome by anyone who goes to Town Meeting.

This is probably a good one to try it out because it will probably be a fairly light Town Meeting. I think it is a great idea.”

Patrice Lane resident Pat Campbell asked Reid if there is going to be a trial run before townspeople begin voting on the different warrant articles.

Reid said Turning Technologies will be undertaking a “couple of trial runs before Town Meeting gets started.”

Campbell expressed her support for the electronic voting at Town Meeting. “I am psyched,” she said. “This is wonderful. I never dreamed it would happen.”

Barrett concurred with Campbell’s opinion.

“I think this is great news,” said Barrett. “I think it’s going to make Town Meeting go a whole lot quicker.”

If residents have any questions about new additions to Town Meeting, residents can call the Town Clerk’s office at 781-334-9400.

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