Monday, January 5, 2015

The Electronic Age

Jim Pistrang pitches his electronic voting idea to Amherst Select Board

256-year-old Amherst Town Meeting could amble into the 21st Century if a majority of the 240+ members support the recommendation of the newly announced Amherst Town Meeting Electronic Voting Committee this coming fall.

The seven member group is the brainchild of Town Meeting Moderator Jim Pistrang, and he will be joined by Town Clerk Sandra Burgess, an IT staff person, one member of the Town Meeting Coordinating Committee and three at large members (not necessarily current Town Meeting members).

According to Mr. Pistrang electronic voting will serve to facilitate three equally important crucial things: accuracy, accountability and efficiency.

The committee will research the best system to fit the needs of Amherst, determine the total cost, and come up with wording to revise current bylaws governing Town Meeting to allow for electronic voting.

And they will draft a warrant article for the 2015 Fall Special Town Meeting to purchase the gadgets, which, if approved, would then go into full use at the 2016 Spring Annual Town Meeting.

As a sales pitch the committee will also put on a demonstration for the Fall Town Meeting showing how the system works prior to their vote (taken in the old fashioned manner -- either voice vote, standing vote, or tally vote).

 Standing vote 5/7/14 Town Meeting

The Select Board unanimously supported the idea to form the committee.

Now if we could just downsize Town Meeting by w-a-y more than half, to say 60, we could save money on the new system, increase accountability even more, and actually make members compete for their seats.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that will make a difference. Now the 8% of people who vote in Amherst can do it electronically. Unfortunately for this town, it will be the same result.

Larry Kelley said...

No it's not for general election voting of candidates, it's for town meeting members voting on warrant articles.

Either way you're right about the result.

Anonymous said...

My reference to the general population IS a reference to the town meeting. Amherst chooses to be run by a nameless group of people who have no leadership, no direction, and no priority. Whoopie, now they can find out the results of voting for another committee sooner. Isn't Amherst on the cutting edge of technology or is that the cutting edge of a razor to the towns wrists. That's what you get when trust fund babies who take a chest full of psychiatric meds and other obsessive-compulsive people are steering the ship. Your photos of some of the town meetings are often confused with stills from the film One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. And like the film we find out in the end that all the crazy patients are here voluntarily.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:51 am

Glad you got that out of your system.

If I have to listen to that suspenders guy again I'll scream said...


No more green and red cards?

No more standing to be counted?

No more . . . voice votes?!?

My God - the efficiency of it all.

Now, if we can just get the moderator to allow a set amount of time for debate (10 minutes in favor, 10 minutes against). Waiting until "there are no hands" is getting ridiculous and is completely unnecessary.

If members knew debate would be limited, they might take the time to actually READ THE WARRANT before the meeting starts, so they could make up their minds without needing to listen to crazy people for 82 hours.

Anonymous said...

100 per cent in favor

The best reason to do this now (!) is because TM members will vote on everything. We will have better data on voting records and more informed elections. No more hiding behind voice votes. (or snoozing while everyone else votes)

There is so concern about the technological divide. But,honestly, if you can't work the TV remote maybe you shouldn't be voting on complicated budget and land use issues.

Anonymous said...

According to the rules, the body, by a required 2/3's vote, not the Moderator, determines when debate comes to an end.

And there's no such thing as a unanimous vote to call the question in Town Meeting.

Why, you ask? One of the great mysteries of Town Meeting is why some individuals are willing, if not eager, to sit there for all eternity, while fellow members lose patience.

Anonymous said...

I am in favor of it. As long as there is no voter fraud. In the last presidential election 3 of my Japanese friends voted for Romney in NYC. One said his name was Schwartz and just pointed at a name on the list. LOL.
They thought it was hilarious,so did I.
I wounder how many dead people voted twice???

Anonymous said...

It's never voter fraud when a Dem gets the vote, right?