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Westford held a special Town Meeting on Oct. 28 to vote on a number of articles including the use of electronic voting. Clearly, truth has been relegated to the trash heap in conservative political discourse over the past few years, and this was once again the case during discussions of whether Westford residents would approve of electronic voting during town meetings. A number of speakers raised the red herring issue of electronic devices lacking data security, even though this has been disproven by the number of Massachusetts communities that have already implemented electronic voting. Once again, falsehoods and scare tactics were used to raise doubt in the minds of meeting attendees, and the article was defeated.
In addition, two other factors contributed to defeat of the article. Town administration did a poor job of educating the public and publicizing the use of the electronic voting devices before they appeared at this meeting. Many residents were completely unaware that they would be expected to vote electronically at this meeting; and were surprised when given the device at check-in. A public service announcement did not appear until four days prior to the meeting even though town officials were encouraged to advertise the issue well in advance; and there was no attempt to hold informational and educational forums for the general public.
Finally, the Town Moderator was on record stating that she preferred voice voting over electronic voting; made little attempt to promote the concept; and angered many meeting attendees by cutting off debate and quickly moving toward a vote on the article.
It is embarrassing to acknowledge that Westford is still relegated to the past using voice voting when more progressive neighboring communities like Acton have been using electronic voting since 2017. — Alden Wood, Westford, Massachusetts
Editor’s Note: Town Moderator Susan Spuhler created a public service announcement in support of using the electronic devices and spoke in support of them.