I agree, Texting Wayland to 33733 is a great way for people to both know what is going on and, when pressed for time, getting there for the article you want to vote in. But remember you will have parking and check-in to deal with and this takes time. If a vote is currently taking place and you are still in line checking in, then as has always been at town meeting (electronic or not), you will not be able to vote until after that vote has taken place. So getting there at the last minute for a specific vote should be front-ended with an appropriate amount of buffer time to make sure you can actually vote in the one you care about.

A comment in the David Watkins texting description was as follows:

“there is no reason in this day and age why people who cannot be present physically at the Wayland High School gymnasium for the whole meeting are excluded from participating in our most democratic process”

I believe that this comment refers to the desire to have internet voting either by computer or mobile while being remote from the physical arena.

Certainly, if there was a technically secure and non proxy assured way to do this then this would be ideal. Some people may want to show up in the arena (and perhaps those would be the ones who could speak at the microphone) while others who can’t be at the meeting - could vote from home. Sort of like electronic voting on ‘steroids’ !

So here are the three challenges which make this difficult to do:

(Per Dave Bernstein)
1. It would be a violation of Massachusetts State Law, which requires physical presence in order to vote at a Town Meeting

2. Without biometric sensors, there’d be no way to prevent voters from giving their proxy to other voters

3. Any scheme that involves the internet for communications would be susceptible to hacking


The first reason is the least difficult. Its non-technical and would require a political solution.

The second reason is very difficult in as much as it would require seemingly expensive biometric equipment, associated software and some training. [Fingerprint or Retinal recognition techniques]

This is the proxy voting issue where (as an example): there are 3 registered voters at one address and two of them are not available anywhere to vote. One of the 3 registered voters casts votes for him/her self and the other two through the night (assuming only using a passworded system). One person then gets 3 votes. Even if the other two voters gave their permission and that one proxy voter ‘knows’ how the others would vote - we should want and demand that anybody who votes actually and physically votes for themselves.

A similar concern has existed with electronic voting in the arena. We discourage proxy voting by having the ability to issue one keypad per person present and discouraging proxy voting through rule and observation. It seems to work well in Wayland and has gotten better during the last 2 years of electronic voting usage.

The third reason is not trivial. Once the voting occurs over the internet - its highly suseptible to attack and security is, again, expensive and may not be full-proof.

But all of this said - if there are any known solutions or ideas along these lines then please let us know !