Voatz to Enable Town Hall E-Voting in Norwell, Mass.

The smartphone-based system will allow residents to vote from mobile devices using a unique code that will expire after a certain amount of time. Norwell is piloting the technology free of charge.

by Kate Walsh, Wicked Local South/Mariner / February 15, 2019
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(TNS) — Residents in Norwell, Mass., will be able to vote electronically at this year's Town Meeting thanks to an app developed by Voatz.

Established in 2015, Voatz created an app to vote electronically on an iPhone or iPad. The app is now compatible with both Apple and Android products.

When the app is downloaded, preferably before a town meeting or other voting platform, the voter is issued a special code at the event, available only for a short period of time, specifically for your registered device and can only used through biometric security (fingerprint or face recognition that is associated with your smart phone).

"This seems to be future, an app on a phone," Electronic Voting Committee member Marybeth Shea said. "We're happy to try it out, completely risk free and they're doing the pilot at Town Meeting free of charge."

Voatz has previously run trials for $2,000 for other towns, but for Norwell, the company will be hosting multiple free training sessions for residents to learn how to use the system leading up to Town Meeting in May.

Voatz employees will work with residents on how to download and set up the app and walk through how to use the technology.

The company will also have representatives on site in May during Town Meeting to help with any technical difficulties or general inquiries about the product during the voting process.

At Town Meeting, each voter will be given a unique code to sign into their device to cast their anonymous vote.

Tablets will also be provided by the company at Town Meeting for multiple voters to use, either for residents to vote and pass down the row or to conduct private votes in a special area if they so desire.

If residents vote in their seats using a Voatz tablet, they will scan their code given to them at the start of the meeting into the device to log in, cast their vote, log out and then pass the device down the row for the next person to log in and vote.

The app allows the percentages and the counts of the votes to be shown on the screen at the same time once all of the votes are in, giving an accurate count.

Cost estimates will be determined prior to Town Meeting and the goal of the Electronic Voting Committee is to have a Town Meeting article at the end of the meeting for residents to vote on whether Norwell would like to continue with Voatz and electronic voting for future town meetings and other possible uses.

"We felt that it was really important that the people who test the equipment vote on the equipment,"' Shea said.

©2019 Wicked Local South/Mariner, Marshfield, Mass. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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