Favor Electronic Voting at Town Meeting?
Selectmen say it's worth discussing.
Would voting electronically increase Westborough’s town meeting attendance and participation?
Selectmen said Tuesday night the idea is worth discussing. Selectmen said it will be a future agenda item. Town Manager Jim Malloy said he will gather information from other communities.
Crownridge Road resident Dominic Capriole offered it to address privacy and accuracy concerns at town meeting.
“There are people in town that are uncomfortable voting because they’re uncomfortable with their friends and neighbors witnessing that they are taking a different position,” Capriole said, noting that recent selectman candidate Stephen Faris suggested the idea to him.
“This even comes up between spouses, believe it or not. And what it does is it limits participation in town meeting, which tends to limit attendance.”
Capriole added that “there’s an accuracy to electronic voting, where the moderator doesn’t have to guess at the count.”
The system and its costs “could be shared with other towns,” where the town meetings don’t coincide with Westborough’s sessions, he said.
Westborough could “maybe have a demonstration at the fall town meeting, and have an article right at the end of the town meeting: if we like it, we buy,” Capriole said
Selectman Denny Drewry said the current voting system “does intimidate people."
“Who wants to get up and tell the chief of police that ‘I believe you’re getting paid too much,’ and the next day, you’re pulled over for speeding,” he said.
Westborough has “11,000 voters, and we have 97 making a decision” at town meeting, Drewry said.
Malloy said that he e-mailed Wayland’s town manager while Capriole spoke, and already received a response.
“I think what we’ll find when we look into it is it’s about $15,000 to $18,000 per town meeting, not a one-time cost,” Malloy said.
“It’ll be interesting to look into,” Selectman Leigh Emery said.
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