Liberate Town Meeting

Before CoronaTime, I tried to imagine a system that took advantage of modern technology, of expanded broadband, and computers and smartphones to extend and expand our ability to discuss the issues before us. So here are several suggestions about how we can liberate town meeting from the past and meet the challenge of COVID-19.

Last year, before CoronaTime, I wrote in the Berkshire Record about expanding our Great Barrington town meeting to take advantage of online voting. My suggestion was prompted by the reality that during last year’s 2019 town meeting, only 468 of our eligible voters offered their opinions about both the school and town budgets during night one. Then only 215 voted on night two to uphold the ban on single-use plastic bottles. As of the most recent presidential primary, we now have 4, 885 registered voters. So that translates to a very small percentage of townspeople deciding how to spend our money, set zoning policy, and determine a whole bunch of other important things that affect our lives — about one in 10.

Yes, as my friend Erik reminded me at the time, there is a great advantage to real people coming out to debate and discuss serious issues face to face. I had/have no desire to disrespect the honorable and traditional New England town meeting, merely to suggest that contemporary life, many times more busy than life in Colonial times, no longer fits those of us in larger small towns. We can no longer all fit comfortably in a town hall. I appreciate it might work in towns like Monterey, Alford, Mount Washington, and Egremont, where it’s still feasible for a larger percentage of citizens to gather to make decisions.

But even that tradition might be threatened in CoronaTime by the new overwhelming need to maintain a safe social distance and protect ourselves from a virulent and remarkably adept virus that can easily infect us.

Yet, in a surge of optimism, the town of Great Barrington sent out this email: “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Barrington Selectboard has voted to postpone this year’s Annual Town Meeting to Monday, June 22, 2020 and Thursday, June 25, 2020 with a start time of 6:00 pm on both nights. The Annual Town Meeting will be held in the Auditorium at the Monument Mountain Regional High School, 600 Stockbridge Road.

“The Selectboard has also postponed this year’s Annual Town Election to Tuesday, June 30, 2020. This year we will have shortened poll hours which will be from 11:00 AM until 6:00 PM. Polling locations are still the same. Voters from Precincts A, C and D will vote at the Great Barrington Fire Station and voters from Precinct B will vote at the Housatonic Community Center. There will be Early Voting for this year’s town election for which all registered voters will be eligible. For more information, please visit the Town’s website www.townofgb.org/town-clerk or contact the Town Clerk’s office at 413-528-1619 extension 3.”

There was, surprisingly, no mention of any plan to adequately protect Great Barrington voters from either asymptomatic or symptomatic carriers of the virus. In the best of times, town meeting is an arduous affair. It requires great patience and fortitude — a willingness to hear six or seven advocates make the same point over and over again, each convinced they’ve added a new, perhaps startling perspective to the problem; a willingness to sacrifice several hours to get to the issues on the warrant that are in any way controversial and probably convinced you to leave your favorite TV show. There’s the need to raise your arm multiple times and watch as counters count the arms. Then, for secret ballots, a willingness to get up and down multiple times and squeeze yourself past many knees to wend the way through the crowds moving up and down the narrow stairs of Monument Mountain to make it to the promised land where you can put your little “yes” or “no” piece of paper in the secret ballot box.

If the selectboard retains its optimism, on June 22 and June 25, 2020, you can add to the squeezing past all those other knees the chance of a random cough or a lethal sneeze.

This prompts me to ask you whether there might be a better way to participate in the debate and discussion and shaping of town policy via the multitude of required votes without risking a trip to the ICU.

Please allow me what someone once called poetic license, and borrow and twist a phrase from our president.

Perhaps you might have read the recent tweets of the chief executive officer of these United States urging his followers to push for a reopening of the country, supporting their demand to paradoxically relax the very guidelines his own White House put out, pressuring governors to cancel public health orders to avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits. Some with assault rifles helped the president make his case, urging public officials to retract the need to practice social distancing and urging them to disregard the all-important White House guideline of a downward trajectory of cases for 14 days because, well, because freedom includes the right to infect your loved ones and the random folks who like the same barbecue joint you do and because Dr. Anthony Fauci is a Deep State Doctor, secretly trained by the World Health Organization in a dingy but diabolical lab in Wuhan, China — and because getting your hair cut and nails done and bowling a few frames might just be worth being intubated and utilizing one of the president’s prized new ventilators. And do men with AR-15s really want to listen to ER nurses?

The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines For America

Clearly, there are many who have lost patience with the new reality. Social distancing is a drag. And a clear-eyed look at a diabolical virus is more than a little depressing, led by a president who, for a host of reasons, prefers mythology to a dispassionate accounting of his multiple failures, there are many who opt for optimism.

On March 24, 2020, The Hill reported: “‘We’re opening up this incredible country. Because we have to do that. I would love to have it open by Easter,’ Trump said. ‘I would love to have that. It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’d love to make it an important day for this. I would love to have the country opened up, and rarin’ to go by Easter.’ In a second interview with Fox that aired Tuesday afternoon, Trump said he offered the holiday as a deadline because ‘Easter’s a very special day for me … Wouldn’t it be great to have all the churches full?’ Trump asked. ‘You’ll have packed churches all over our country … I think it’ll be a beautiful time.’”

Anyway, I’m all for full-throated optimism, but someone please tell me how our town is going to distinguish who might be asymptomatic and who’s symptomatic but really wants to spend multi-millions on a new high school and figures he/she can rest after the meeting is over.

Personally, I think many of the Liberate Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia folks are a bit bonkers, but that’s not going to stop me from stealing the slogan. If you ask me, this is the proper time to Liberate Town Meeting.

A less poetic way to put it is to suggest necessity requires we reconfigure town meeting. Before CoronaTime, I tried to imagine a system that took advantage of modern technology, of expanded broadband, and computers and smartphones to extend and expand our ability to discuss the issues before us. So here are several suggestions about how we can liberate town meeting from the past and meet the challenge of COVID-19. First, break down the too-large number of items on the warrant. Maybe have one warrant in the winter and one in May/June. Set up a website or blog that empowers voters to discuss, argue, agree, disagree for several weeks in advance of a vote about the school budget, the numbers of pot shops, the need for public parking. It’s not difficult to have an advocate for a warrant item — a member of the selectboard, or finance committee, or planning board to make the case for passage — and an opponent, each of whom writes several paragraphs to discuss the issue and provoke a larger discussion that invites participation from any voter.

Then use a diverse mix of mail-in ballots, online voting for those with smartphones and computers, and then kiosks in a couple of convenient places for those without their own devices. I wish I was a programmer and IT whiz and had the skills to design and code a voting app that would allow every registered voter the opportunity to weigh in on budget items, changes in town planning, how we fund our schools and Department of Public Works. I imagine there are GB residents with those talents.

Not surprisingly, towns all over New England are trying to figure out a way to keep the principles of town meeting alive in the time of coronavirus. Here’s a report from Valley News in Vermont: “Vermont municipalities with upcoming or postponed Town Meeting votes are applauding legislation passed this week that could open the door to mail-in or drive-by voting.

The bill, HB 681, would allow Vermont towns and school districts to forgo floor meetings and instead adopt Australian ballot voting for 2020.”

Here in Massachusetts, Gov. Baker signed an emergency bill that allows more voters to participate in state elections from the safety of their own homes by expanding absentee and early voting by mail. The bill enables cities and towns to postpone spring elections due to the novel coronavirus until June.

The next step is to extend that to include a safe way to conduct town meetings. According to officials in Arlington, with Envision Arlington and the League of Women Voters, they planned to conduct “a virtual forum where you can hear plans for the election – including vote by mail, absentee ballots, and going to the polls on June 6th … You will also have an opportunity to provide comments and suggestions.”

The town of Hatfield is attempting to change the way it holds town meeting and how the public votes: “With social distancing being recommended to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, board members and members of the Finance Committee suggested that the Town Meeting warrant could be voted on by having the meeting in the parking lot at Smith Academy, with residents encouraged to remain in their vehicles or having seating set up but spaced out sufficiently. In case of inclement weather, the meeting could be delayed.”

The Boston Globe reports on developments in our neighboring state: “Rhode Island will for the first time try a ‘predominately’ mail-in voting for its presidential primary this year as part of an executive order signed by Governor Gina Raimondo last week, which also moved the state’s presidential primary back to June 2. ‘These are times that call for us to look at how we can improve our election systems,’ said Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea in a phone interview.

“Soon her state will be mailing out ‘voting applications’ to every registered voter, largely because independent voters can choose which primary ballot they want. After an application is received and the party’s ballot selected, the voter will be mailed a ballot. When the ballots are returned to a central place, they will eventually be counted. One in-person voting place will be open in every community on Election Day for those still hoping to vote as usual.”

Not only does the reality of COVID-19 prompt us to re-examine old habits, should we fail to act to adopt widespread mail-in voting, we’re facing severe consequences, especially when it comes to Congress and the presidency: “We know this system works as well as the best practices,” said Wendy Weiser, vice president of the Brennan Center at the New York University Law School, which, in March, put out detailed recommendations for what needed to be done nationwide. “This election is happening. Unless we make changes, we can expect to see a huge shortage of poll workers, and a drop in voter registration and turnout. Even if this mail-in ballot method is a short-term fix, it’s something we need to be planning for immediately.”

Of course, the larger the pool of voters, the greater the cost. The Globe article notes: “One complication with expanding mail-in balloting even further in Massachusetts and beyond: who pays for the postage. Currently, postage is essentially split between local cities and towns and the voter directly when they mail back the ballot. The one-time cost for Rhode Island’s June presidential primary is estimated to be $850,000.

“One potential fix to that could be the large $2 trillion stimulus package the US House passed on a voice vote Friday and President Trump signed into law a few hours later. Among the items in the new law was $400 million earmarked for election security grants for states. It remains unclear how exactly states can use that money …

“Heading into this election cycle, five states conducted their elections entirely by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. Another 34 states, like Massachusetts, have some form of early voting where people can cast ballots by mail.”

An editorial in the Milford Daily News urged: “On the state level, lawmakers, judges and other elected leaders need to work out challenges of conducting elections that are both safe and fair, and they also must juggle new information that is emerging daily on the best means to avoid catching COVID-19. While we hope that the danger of people congregating will be lessened by May, when we have a special election scheduled for a state Senate seat for the Plymouth & Barnstable District and several town elections, what if it isn’t? Are there other reasonable and reliable methods of voting that should be considered?”

Here’s an example of how voters in Maryland embraced write-in ballots:

Chart courtesy Maryland State Board of Elections

There’s a similar debate underway in Maine in small towns like Unity. According to usnews.com: “For two centuries, the residents here have gathered each March for the town’s annual meeting. Over the course of a Saturday, citizens here debate everything from expenditures for the cemetery and fire department to employee salaries and zoning ordinances. It can be a messy, all-day affair with a break only for a community supper, says Peggy Sampson, the first selectperson and general administrator. But it’s also a fundamental part of the community.

‘Town meeting is a big deal,’ Sampson says. ‘People plan on it every year. We can’t run the community without it.’ … Town meetings have been a fundamental part of New England’s political landscape since the first arrival of colonists, says Maine State Historian Earle G. Shettleworth Jr. ‘They are the purist form of democracy,’ Shettleworth says …

“Eric Conrad serves as director of communication and educational services for the Maine Municipal Association, a voluntary nonprofit organization that provides services and legal counsel for all of Maine’s 484 towns and cities. He says that, in the weeks leading up to the state declaration of emergency, the association was inundated with calls from member municipalities who feared they would be without a budget for the duration of the covid19 virus. An emergency act passed by the State Legislature on March 18 allows towns to use last year’s budget until the state of emergency is lifted. But Conrad acknowledges it’s an imperfect solution …

“In the meantime, some have raised the prospect of hosting a remote town meeting, using an Internet-based conference platform like Zoom. But that’s a contentious legal subject. Conrad says the MMA legal team is certain that such meetings are beyond the scope of what is approved by legislation.”

Jeff Thaler, a professor at the University of Maine Law School “agrees as far as the actual town meeting is concerned, but he thinks there might be wiggle room for select boards to conduct some important business digitally – assuming, of course, that residents have access to broadband Internet, a sticking point for many rural Maine communities. ‘It’s all definitely new territory,’ he says. ‘Historically, Maine has been a place that still embraces the fact that everyone is willing to hear from each other. It’s getting harder and harder to see how that works in the 21st century.’”

NBC News investigated one of most successful examples of widespread voting by mail: “About 150,000 of the 1 million Union soldiers were able to vote absentee in the 1864 presidential election in what became the first widespread use of non-in-person voting in American history.

A century and a half later, amidst a new debate over voting by mail as the country prepares to hold an election during a different kind of war — this one against the coronavirus — America’s long history of letting soldiers vote from far-flung war zones shows the issue has always been controversial, but that the worst fears of critics have never come to pass …

“‘Some part of the military has been voting absentee since the American Revolution,’ said Donald Inbody, a retired Navy captain who went on to a career in academia as a political science professor at Texas State University. Overseas voters also can register to vote and request an absentee ballot at the same time, with one easy form. They can receive their blank ballot by mail, fax or email. And they will automatically be sent an absentee ballot for every election in the upcoming year, instead of having to request one each time. There’s even an emergency backup ballot if the absentee ballot doesn’t arrive in time. It’s a blank, universal write-in ballot that can be used for any election in any state. It can be printed out and returned by mail, postage paid. ‘It is easier to vote from overseas than in the U.S. in a lot of ways,’ said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, the president and CEO of the U.S. Vote Foundation and Overseas Vote Initiative.”

As for voting by mail back in the United States, VOX reported on May 24, 2018: “Last week, a county in western Nebraska tried something new. With permission from Secretary of State John Gale, Garden County conducted its May 15 primary election entirely by mail. A ballot was mailed to every registered voter, to be returned, either by post or at a drop box, by the day of the election.

“That simple change boosted voter turnout in Garden County to 58.7 percent. The average for all other Nebraska counties? 24.3 percent — less than half that. (Oh, and the county’s results were available less than an hour after the polls closed.) It was a little like what happened last month, when the city of Anchorage, Alaska, home of almost half the state’s population, held its first vote-by-mail city elections. Voter turnout hit 34 percent, breaking a record set in 2012 …

Image courtesy Vote at Home Institute

VOX continues: “The moral of all these stories is the same: Vote-at-home (VAH) systems, using old-fashioned postal mail and paper ballots, are just better. They increase turnout and make voting a more positive experience …”

As for the expense: “Vote-at-home systems are cheaper. The transition to a VAH system — changing procedures, disposing of old equipment (remember the voting machines Utah County already bought) — can cost a chunk of money up front, but over time, VAH increases efficiency and reduces costs. In 2016, Pew did a close analysis of Colorado’s experience shifting to VAH after sweeping 2013 election reforms. Among its findings: ‘Costs decreased by an average of 40 percent in five election administration-related categories.’

“The state needed fewer poll workers (from 16,000 in 2008 to 4,000 in 2014) and fewer polling locations (from more than 1,800 to about 300 … Overall, counties spent an average of $9.56 per vote in 2014, down from $15.96 in 2008.”

VOX addresses the issue of security: “Oregon has mailed out more than 100 million ballots since 2000, with about a dozen cases of proven fraud.’ That’s a 0.000012 percent rate of fraud.”

In March 2020, the National Conference of State Legislatures offered this analysis: “Five states currently conduct all elections entirely by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah. At least 21 other states have laws that allow certain smaller elections, such as school board contests, to be conducted by mail. For these elections, all registered voters receive a ballot in the mail. The voter marks the ballot, puts it in a secrecy envelope or sleeve and then into a separate mailing envelope, signs an affidavit on the exterior of the mailing envelope, and returns the package via mail or by dropping it off. Ballots are mailed out well ahead of Election Day, and thus voters have an ‘election period,’ not just a single day, to vote. All-mail elections can be thought of as absentee voting for everyone …”

Image courtesy National Conference of State Legislatures

The conference offered a balanced view of mail-in voting: “Possible Advantages: Voter convenience and satisfaction — Citizens can vote at home and take all the time they need to study the issues. Voters often express enthusiasm for all-mail elections.

Financial savings — Jurisdictions may save money because they no longer need to staff traditional polling places with poll workers and equip each polling place with voting machines … Turnout — Some reports indicate that because of convenience, voter turnout increases. These reports assert that turnout increases by single digits for presidential elections and more in smaller elections … Effects on turnout can be more pronounced for low propensity voters, those that are registered but do not vote as frequently.

“Possible Disadvantages: Tradition — The civic experience of voting with neighbors at a local school, church, or other polling place no longer exists. Disparate effect on some populations —Mail delivery is not uniform across the nation. Native Americans on reservations may in particular have difficulty with all-mail elections. Many do not have street addresses, and their P.O. boxes may be shared. Literacy can be an issue for some voters, as well. Election materials are often written at a college level. (Literacy can be a problem for voters at traditional polling place locations too.) One way to mitigate this is to examine how voter centers are distributed throughout counties to best serve the population.

“Security — During all-mail elections (and absentee voting), coercion by family members or others might occur. Financial considerations — All-mail elections greatly increase printing costs for an election. Additionally, jurisdictions must have appropriate equipment to read paper ballots at a central location, and changing from electronic equipment to equipment that can scan paper ballots can be expensive. Slow vote counting—All-mail elections may slow down the vote counting process, especially if a state’s policy is to allow ballots postmarked by Election Day to be received and counted in the days and weeks after the election.”

Back to Great Barrington and some ways we can Liberate Town Meeting. For those who decide not to attend the meetings in person, there’s the expansion of the mail-in ballot. According to patch.com, Vernon, Connecticut, is experimenting with drive-through voting and virtual town meetings to promote community engagement and protect the health of our democracy during this public health crisis.

Drive-up voting, Vernon, Conn., town meeting. Photo: Chris Dehnel/Patch

Some towns have already experimented with the use of smartphone and specially designed apps to make voting more efficient in normal times. The town of Hopkinton, according to ehop.com, worked with a Boston based company, Voatz, to use electronic voting in a pilot program “to increase participation, ensure accuracy, and allow for a prompt tally of votes” for town elections.

Citizens could “vote electronically on their own personal compatible device (Android 2016 or newer or iPhone 5s or newer). If a resident does not have a personal compatible device, there will be dozens of available tablets spread throughout the auditorium where residents will be able to cast their votes. For those that may be mobility impaired or not able to leave their seats, we will have tablets available to be brought over to you …

“When you arrive at Town Meeting, check in if you are a registered voter and you will receive a voter card with a QR code (quick response) on it in addition to the color coded voting card you’ve received in the past. This QR code is unique and is your ‘ticket to vote’ electronically.

Smartphone app, Hopkinton town meeting. Image courtesy ehop.org

Larry Moore, senior vice president, Voatz Inc., addressed some of the critical issues in online voting: “The dream of online voting is as old as the Internet itself. The road to achieve that goal has been long, marked by high-profile setbacks and less-noticed but still important progress. It is a path marked with deep skepticism and loud, security-focused critics. It is a journey which we are not close to finishing. Yet, as the late Nelson Mandela is credited with saying, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’

“More than 35 million Americans have disabilities, which make voting harder, and another 3 million U.S. citizens live abroad. Online voting would dramatically improve their ability to participate in our democracy. Already this year, West Virginia has taken an important step in this direction, opening the same electronic absentee-voting options to disabled voters as those available to members of the military and other citizens residing abroad.”

A first step seems to be making several convenient locations available for electronic voting: “Vote centers are another, similar example: Larimer County, Colorado became the first locality to pilot them in 2003, shifting from costly traditional neighborhood-based precincts to locations which voters can choose to use according to their convenience. Sixteen states now allow for the use of voting centers on Election Day, with others using them for early voting. Again the shift saved money while boosting accessibility; and again critics contended that it opened the system to unacceptable risk of fraud because people could center-hop, casting multiple ballots. Technology solved that problem, however. At the precinct level, electronic poll books can notify all locations when someone voted at one. More broadly, the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, allows the 15 participating states and the District of Columbia to use official data (voter and motor vehicle registrations and Social Security death records, among other things) to keep voter rolls up-to-date. Most recently, Oregon again blazed a new path in expanding voting access by implementing automatic voting registration in 2016. The reform uses technology to expand and improve the spirit of the 1993 “Motor-Voter” law, which allowed people to register to vote when interacting with Departments of Motor Vehicles. Since then, 16 other states and the District of Columbia have followed suit, generating impressive gains in the number of voters registered …”

Moore acknowledges the question of security with online voting: “Can we rely on the device upon which the voter casts their ballot, the network over which it is transmitted and the security of ballots which may be returned from anywhere in the world? The second challenge involves identity: How can election administrators be assured that the person submitting their ballot is not only a registered voter but actually who they claim to be? The third challenge is usability: If the technology requires training for voters, regardless of their circumstances, it is not likely to be widely adopted. Finally, any system for casting ballots online must be auditable from end to end: Voters must be able to see for themselves that their intent was correctly recorded and that their votes were received and accurately tallied in the final results while retaining the anonymity of the secret ballot …”

“To dismiss the entire effort to expand vote accessibility through secure and reliable online voting would be short-sighted, however, and would miss current and future technological developments which could directly address the challenges facing online voting.”

Moore continues: “Take smartphones: Between biometric authentication (fingerprint scanners and facial recognition) and hi-res cameras capable of verifying credentials like driver’s licenses or passports, these devices have made substantial leaps forward in the process of voter-verification. The prevalence of smartphones (81 percent of American adults have them, according to Pew) and the competitive nature of the market for them also helps. Apple and Google try to outdo each other by making their phones easier to use, more accessible, more secure and with their ability to push updates worldwide, can make elections more resilient to unanticipated events. Advances in blockchain technology permit secure and immutable recording of votes on multiple, geographically-distributed servers which verify the authenticity of the votes cast. Developments in cloud computing permit election officials to access advanced, up-to-date technology without having to invest time, staff and capital to maintain an online voting infrastructure and keep it current – a problem that they face with their current, episodically-used, voting equipment.

“These technological advances are not currently in widespread use for voting – and they do not, in and of themselves, clear the way toward widespread online voting. But they do illuminate a path forward. It should be navigated with care but it should be trod.

“How? First, a critical step – the right mix of skills and knowledge must be assembled. Any team in the online-voting field needs practical, hands-on experience in large-scale software development, quality assurance, computer security and IT operations. The team must also possess proficiency with federal, state and local election laws and voting systems regulations and certification requirements, among other things.

“A second step is also crucial. Responsible election officials must be willing to conduct carefully controlled pilots of credible technologies and provide ongoing feedback in the service of continuous improvement. As mentioned above, this is how virtually all election innovations have been developed and, ultimately, fielded on a wide scale. Why? Simply put, live elections cannot be simulated in a laboratory.

“The road to online voting should and needs be a deliberate process. The stakes are too high to rush down this path. But to refuse to move forward at all, to advocate that responsible pilots should be stopped, would be to deliberately keep the obstacles in place that prevent millions of Americans from fully participating in our democracy.”

Certainly, a quick look at the medical emergency we face makes the case for the need to proceed to solve these problems.

Image courtesy covidusa.net

Obviously, I’m pessimistic about the odds that 400-plus voters can safely gather at Monument Mountain for several hours for two nights. At a minimum I would encourage an attempt to shift debate and discussion of important warrant items onto a digital platform, and urge mail-in voting for both warrant items and the election of town officers. Add the option of drive-up voting at sites on both sides of town and Housatonic. If a significant percentage of voters opt in to these options, then it’s possible to imagine that those who desire to meet the old-fashioned way to practice effective social distancing.

Beyond that, it’s time to gather a collection of programmers and smart folks to investigate a fair and secure online voting process.

For many reasons, I believe it’s time to Liberate Town Meeting, to wrench old-time town meeting tradition into the 21st century. For those of you still determined to maintain our longstanding town meeting past, take a moment to consider the possibility of a one-time exception to accommodate COVID-19.

___________________________________________________________________

References and additional information

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting

30 Days To Slow The Spread
https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf

Opening Up America Again
https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Guidelines-for-Opening-Up-America-Again.pdf

“Trump says he hopes to have economy reopen by Easter”
Brett Samuels and Morgan Chalfant, March 24, 2020, the Hill
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/489251-trump-says-he-hopes-to-have-economy-reopen-by-easter

“Vermont bill may mean mail-in, drive-by voting for Town Meeting”
Tim Camerato, March 27, 2020, Valley News
https://www.vnews.com/Vermont-Makes-Town-Meeting-Changes-33551810

An Act granting authority to postpone 2020 municipal elections in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
https://www.scribd.com/document/453051166/Voting-Bill – download&from_embed

“Hatfield postpones annual town meeting, election to June”
Scott Merzbach, April 28, 2020, Amherst Bulletin
https://www.amherstbulletin.com/Hatfield-postpones-Town-Meeting-date-34108449

“Voting by mail in New England? Coronavirus could lead to the biggest changes in the way Americans vote in more than half a century”
James Pindell, March 31, 2020, Boston Globe
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/31/metro/voting-by-mail-new-england-coronavirus-could-lead-biggest-changes-way-americans-vote-more-than-half-century/

“Our View: State should seriously consider voting by mail”
April 11, 2020, Milford Daily News
https://www.milforddailynews.com/opinion/20200411/our-view-state-should-seriously-consider-voting-by-mail

“Maine’s Annual Town Meetings May Fall Victim to Coronavirus”
Kathryn Miles, March 30, 2020, usnews.com
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2020-03-30/maines-annual-town-meetings-may-fall-victim-to-coronavirus

“How do you know voting by mail works? The U.S. military’s done it since the Civil War.”
Advocates and lawmakers believe it could be a model for November because of coronavirus.
Alex Seitz-Wald, April 19, 2020, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/how-do-you-know-voting-mail-works-u-s-military-n1186926

“Vernon Staging Drive-Up Voting For Crucial Town Meeting”
Chris Dehnel, March 18, 2020, patch.com
https://patch.com/connecticut/vernon/vernon-staging-drive-voting-crucial-town-meeting

“Hopkinton Town Moderator to Introduce Electronic Voting at Town Meeting”
April 30, 2018, ehop.org
https://ehop.org/2018/04/electronic-voting-pilot-for-town-meeting-2018/

https://voatz.com/

https://voatz.com/Road-to-Online-Voting-Final.pdf

“The simple voting reform that works wherever it’s tried”
Recent experiments in Alaska and Nebraska show voting by mail dramatically boosts turnout.
David Roberts, May 24, 2018, VOX
https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/5/23/17383400/vote-by-mail-home-california-alaska-nebraska

All-Mail Elections (aka Vote-By-Mail)
March 24, 2020, National Conference of State Legislatures
https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/all-mail-elections.aspx

https://covidusa.net/?state=Massachusetts