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Just a Thought

There was a constructive discussion during an Upton Selectmen's meeting recently concerning funding for the use of electronic voting to be used at town meetings. The discussion was whether or not

to bring an article forward to residents during the November 13 Special Town Meeting that would have funded the handheld devices and software needed

to begin utilizing the new voting system. Ultimately, at the urging of the Town Moderator, I think the Board made the right decision in agreeing to first form a committee to vet the pros and cons of e-voting and then present that information to residents who will make the decision in the end. E-voting itself is quite easy to use and comprehend. Small handheld devices are given to each voter at check in and when directed by the Town Moderator, a Yes button or

No button is pushed depending on how the resident chooses to vote. If a voter chooses to abstain, then he or she pushes no button. Shortly after, the outcome

is displayed by the number of Yes votes versus No votes; residents names and how they voted are never displayed. And of course, when the meeting is over,

the devices are turned back in.

Electronic voting is something that is catching

on in a number of communities including Grafton, Uxbridge, and Westborough as well as in Framingham, Natick, and Wayland, among others.

In my community, we have utilized e-voting and I pleasantly discovered how much I preferred it.

At a town meeting last year, there was a somewhat controversial article on the warrant and the e-voting not only assured confidentiality among all citizens who may not want their vote so publicly known,

but personally I found it interesting to see the exact outcome of each article instead of hearing just a majority voice vote. Still, there are things to think about before moving forward with this new form of voting; the cost, will it save time versus a voice vote, and is it really necessary. Several have argued that Upton doesn't have enough controversial articles at town meeting to warrant the new voting, however, with the onset of using social media to voice opinions on town issues, I would say contentious articles are becoming somewhat more frequent. It may not be for every community and that will be the charge of the committee formed to see if it's a fit for Upton

or not and then ultimately up to the residents. As the Selectmen agreed, once it's used, it's probably in Upton to stay. Still I would say just based on my personal experience with it, I would vote Yes for e-voting.


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