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Recently, a letter to the editor titled “Falsehoods and Scare Tactics Helped Defeat Effort to Use Electronic Voting Devices at Town Meetings “ appeared in Westford CAT. A better title would have been: “Moderator and Advocates Fail to Address Voting Devices Concern at Town Meeting.”
My first manager gave me some excellent advice that I’ll pass along: “Never blame others for your loss, examine what you did wrong and what you could do better and learn from it.”
There are legitimate concerns nationwide about electronic voting, including security, auditing and lack of accountability amongst others, I am sure. Clearly, these were not addressed, and while it certainly is possible that this particular solution would alleviate these concerns, we’ll never know as they were not addressed very well (either before or during the meeting). Westford is full of tech savvy, smart people who attend Town Meeting. Vague, sometimes contradictory answers do not play well with that audience.
Sitting quietly at Town Meeting, I got the sense that contributing to the loss were not only issues not addressed and avoided (even the cost question was not answered other than it depended on how many used the device), but the perceived arrogance of the moderator.
Amongst the comments I heard were that she was demanding people vote for this because she says it is right. That perceived arrogance does not play well at Town Meeting (or other forums), and she needs to address this if she wants to try to get her way in the future.
The previous letter I mentioned brings up additional points of the lack of notice about this issue and lack of effort to educate the voters prior to Town Meeting. Learning experiences, all.
Finally, the basic “what problem are we solving and is it worth solving?” was never really addressed well at or prior to Town Meeting.
I for one am proud that Westford does not automatically adopt things just because of other towns’ actions (remember: “If Johnny jumps off a bridge, would you just follow?”?). Questioning the cost and value to Westford, not other places, is truly the right thing to do. — Dan Doherty, Westford, Massachusetts