Voters at the Special Town Meeting
on Monday, Dec. 11 will notice technology taking a new role. An electronic
check-in process will replace the traditional paper-and-pencil method, and
voters will cast their votes using a new electronic voting system.
Electronic check-in is expected to
speed that process, according to Town Clerk Dawn Varley. As voters are checked
in, they will be issued a small, remote-control-like device that they will use
to vote at the Special Town Meeting. This device is expected to speed voting,
particularly on close votes when standing counts have been traditionally
conducted, and ensure accuracy in the counts. Results will be displayed on a
screen visible to all voters.
The Town’s Electronic Voting Study
Committee evaluated the method and recommended adopting it on a one-year trial
basis, then leaving it up to voters to determine its future use. The 2017
Annual Town Meeting adopted the recommendation and voted to fund electronic
voting for a year. The town expects to rent the system from Turning
Technologies for the 2018 Annual Town Meeting, and the firm has offered to let
this year’s Special Town Meeting use it for free.
“This will be a good opportunity
to try out this new method so voters and town officials can get acclimated to
its use,” said Town Moderator Michael Seele. “The technology is very easy to
use and a representative from the vendor will be on hand to provide instruction
The hand-held voting device is
about the size of a small pocket calculator. Although there are several
numbered buttons on it, only numbers 1 and 2 function. Voters will press 1 to
vote “yes,” and 2 to vote “no.” They will have 10 seconds to cast their votes
and may change their votes during that time frame. At the end of the 10-second
period, the system will count the last number pressed as the voter’s choice.
The final aggregate tally will be displayed on a screen. The devices will
register the votes anonymously so individual voters cannot be linked to
The devices have no function
outside the meeting and bins will be provided to collect them as voters leave
Special Town Meeting will convene
at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 11 at Town Hall. At least 150 registered Whitman
voters must be present before the meeting can begin.