Page 5 of 5 FirstFirst 12345
Results 61 to 72 of 72

Thread: When 2/3 isn't

  1. #61
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    275

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Below is an excerpt from an email that I sent (on my own behalf) to Moderator Peter Gossels, copying the Board of Selectmen, the chair of the Finance Committee, and the chair of the School Committee.

    1. Feedback speaker for Moderator
    In the same way that music bands have small speakers so that they can get a sense of how they sound, why not provide a small speaker on the Moderator's podium to provide the sound coming from the main speaker system. Of course, it would be important not to interfere with the Moderator's microphone.

    2. Pro/Con microphone lighting
    It may have been where I was sitting, but it appeared that the lighting was better on the Con microphone than the Pro microphone. Positioning a light in front of and above both microphones might make it easier for the Moderator to see the people speaking there.

    3. Babysitting
    It would be great to offer babysitting, either on-site at the HS or over at Happy Hollow, as has been done in the past. Also, it would be great if the Town (or perhaps a group of HS students) could organize a babysitting network that people could access to have a sitter at home. This could be student volunteer work to keep costs down, or have a nominal fee.

    4. Electronic vote counting
    I think that people would be much more tolerant of the meeting in general if the counting of votes didn't create large chunks of dead time. There must be hand-held voting systems that we could rent (or purchase with a consortium of towns) that would make voting instantaneous. We could test it on some non-controversial articles, and maybe use it in a non-binding way to check the standing counted vote before we make it official. If nothing else, it would be interesting to see what sort of difference there is between the standing count and the electronic count.

    5. "Re-poll"
    What we've been calling a recount is actually a "re-poll." Recounts are for something tangible like ballots that presumably aren't changing. Re-polls are of voters who may change their votes, not vote at all, or even depart. We might consider limiting re-polls to voice votes (if that's allowed by the state statute). Or, we might require someone requesting a re-poll to have a reason why (with "close vote" perhaps not being a sufficient reason). For instance, the requester might say that the tellers missed a row, or the math was incorrect, or something like that. Of course, with electronic vote counting, this might not be an issue.

    6. Terminate debate
    We might change or even eliminate the terminate debate rule. With the 60 minute time limit, it's not as if one side or the other can "filibuster" for all that long. And, as voting currently stands, the count may take longer than running out the clock. Perhaps we might require the person making the motion to give a brief reason why (e.g. "no one is offering new information"), with the Moderator having discretion to rule in order or not.
    While I might have posted point #6 as #1 (as I feel this is the most serious issue facing TM), I too am interested in the response here as I feel like Jeff has certainly highlighted many key issues. Two agreements in one month -- not sure what to think of that turn of events

    I might have added one more...a prohibition on citizens entering the floor/voting if they have not checked in before the beginning of the article discussed. It seems to be patently unfair to allow people to "jam the ballot box" by entering the floor just as a vote is being started if they were no willing to put in the time to listen to the debate (as was shown by the 100 or so people that showed up just in time for the reconsideration vote at the end of the evening).

  2. #62
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    I wasn't suggesting a priority in my numbering.

    Interesting thought about whether attendance should be "frozen" for a given article before discussion on the article starts. Could be a challenge to implement/enforce, though. Would people be allowed to check in during one article to be heard on the following article? Would there be some sort of "holding area" where they could wait but not vote? Would there be any grace period following the start of an article? What happens if parking/transportation disrupt someone from arriving on time?

    I suspect that many people have their minds made up anyway (the sex offender article being a notable exception), in which case they aren't really paying attention to the discussion. Other people are reading, doing work, chatting, etc., and also not paying attention. That's not to say that the spirit of this idea is flawed, just that in practice, it may be a challenge to make work.

  3. #63
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    275

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Interesting thought about whether attendance should be "frozen" for a given article before discussion on the article starts. Could be a challenge to implement/enforce, though. Would people be allowed to check in during one article to be heard on the following article? Would there be some sort of "holding area" where they could wait but not vote? Would there be any grace period following the start of an article? What happens if parking/transportation disrupt someone from arriving on time?
    As long as you are checked in before the article begins, then you are eligible to vote on said article and any that follow it (providing you don't leave the hall, in which case, you should either be readmitted if the article you left during is still on the floor, or wait until a new article begins if you left and a new article has started).

    The holding area would be like going to a Broadway show. You wait behind a rope or barrier of some sort barring you from the floor until being admitted at an appropriate time.

    A grace period should apply within the first five minutes of an article. Otherwise, the voter should have planned better to make it on time.

    Obviously, this could be fine tuned, but it would prevent gaming the system through "ballot box jamming" to a large degree.

  4. #64
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    165

    Default So much for democracy

    Since when does listening to debate have anything to do with the right to vote? As near as I can tell, there's no requirement for education, knowledge of subject matter, or even the ability to speak English associated with the right to vote. Why would our archaic, outdated, mostly unworkable and unnecessary TM format be so obtuse as to believe that it could/shouuld change the rights of "one person, one vote" to suddenly include "listen to debate that you may or may not care about before you can vote". With this kind of restriction even being considered, it won't be long before we also decide that women are not qualified to vote any more (feel free to substitute any group you'd like in place of "women" - I don't mean to single out any one group in particular). The ugly side of democracy, is that everyone is entitled to an opinion, regardless of how (un)informed they are. Please don't even think about changing that.

  5. #65
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Wayland MA 463 Old Conn Path
    Posts
    382

    Default There are many opinions - here is another

    An interesting op-ed today in the Crier called
    "Observations on Wayland Town Meeting" by Daryl Vanderburgh who is originally from Canada where he says Town Meetings don't exist.

    One notable paragraph:
    "As my companion next to me aptly observed, isn’t the point of town meeting to allow debate to be heard? If there is no appetite for debate, why have town meeting at all? We should simply put all issues to a town-wide vote and be done with it. Shame on those who stifle debate in this type of forum designed to promote just that."

    The full op-ed is here:
    http://www.wickedlocal.com/wayland/n...d-Town-Meeting

  6. #66
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    726

    Default

    In case any of the participants in this debate haven't yet seen Peter Gossel's letter regarding the recount, I thought it would be useful to include it within this thread:

    http://waylandenews.com/wordpress/20...d-regulations/

    Those of you who attended the November 18, 2009 session of our Special Town Meeting, or saw it on television, will recall that I made a controversial ruling in response to a request by more than seven voters that I recount a vote under Article 3 of the Warrant, which was commonly referred to as the “Town Center article”.

    I instructed the tellers to “poll” the voters once more based on my reading (and understanding) of G.L. c. 39, § 15, which provides that, “If a vote so declared is immediately questioned by seven or more voters, (the Moderator) shall verify it by polling the voters …” I had taken a voice vote and then a non-counted vote, but I was in doubt as to whether the motion had passed by the two-third majority required to change the zoning laws applicable to the “Town Center”. As a result, I called upon the tellers to verify the vote by polling the voters because I had not “declared” the votes before calling for the standing counted vote, which carried the motion by 553 votes to 271. 1585 people had checked in that evening, but 761 had left after the Meeting had approved the bond issue needed to build a new high school. The poll to “verify” the vote resulted in a standing counted vote of 297 votes to 216, short of a two-thirds majority after 311 more voters had left the Field House.

    Although the motion to rezone the “Town Center” carried after reconsideration the following evening, by a vote of 531 to 251, my ruling to poll the voters after a standing counted vote was widely criticized. As a result, I decided to consult with my fellow moderators in Massachusetts, who maintain a “chat room” called “Gavel Line”. Their response to my inquiry was nearly unanimous: It is their practice to poll the voters only after they have declared the vote based on a voice or non-counted standing vote and never after a standing counted vote.

    Although I still believe that my reading of G.L. c. 39, § 15 was correct, I am not so arrogant or intransigent to ignore the opinions of so many experienced colleagues and residents of Wayland, who have criticized my ruling for a variety of good reasons.

    As a result, I will no longer verify the results of a standing counted vote that I have declared, unless “clear and convincing evidence shall have been submitted to the Moderator that fraud, the incompetence of one or more tellers or some other irregularity has infected the accuracy of the vote count just completed” and I have so amended the Moderator’s Rules and Regulations Governing Wayland’s Town Meetings.

    C. Peter R. Gossels
    Moderator of the Town of Wayland

  7. #67
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    While "incompetence of one or more tellers" is probably technically correct, I'd say that the term "incompetence" carries enough negative baggage that it might be worth avoiding. I can only imagine selflessly volunteering to be a teller, making an honest mistake under difficult circumstances, and then being called incompetent in front of hundreds if not thousands of my neighbors. Perhaps the Moderator might reword as follows: "... fraud, errors on the part of one or more tellers or some other ..."

  8. #68
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    96

    Default

    I disagree with Jeff on this. "Error" alone is too low a standard -- e.g., a one vote counting error where the margin is 200 votes is immaterial. Moreover, how would the Moderator evaluate whether there has been an error? "Fraud or incompetence" is the well-tread legal term of art, intended to prevent mischief by setting a high bar for a demand for a re-vote.

  9. #69
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    I certainly wouldn't want error to mean one missed count (which in any event probably wouldn't be detected). I was looking for an alternative to "incompetence" that comes across as less a characteristic of the person and more their action in the case of counting.

    Mischief? In Wayland?

  10. #70
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    96

    Default

    I still like "incompetence". Such a threshhold would make most people reluctant to invoke it except in egregious cases, and would make the Moderator disinclined to entertain it without very clear evidence. In my 35+ years of Town Meeting -- with the requirement that 2 tellers agree on each count -- I've never seen an instance of "incompetence".

  11. #71
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Interestingly enough, at this past Town Meeting, a teller was replaced because his/her pace of counting was deemed too slow. I don't know what perogative the Moderator has to replace a teller--perhaps "incompetence" had to be invoked?

  12. #72
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Replacing a teller for reasons of efficiency and allowing a second standing vote seem to me two entirely different things with justifiably different triggers.

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •