RTM Moderator: “The electronic voting system had no flaws or defects”

On Tuesday night, an RTM vote to approve a $500,000 grant from CTCL to the Greenwich Registrar of Voters office passed with a total of 210 votes – 104 in favor, 101 against and 5 abstentions.

After the announcement of the vote, several members interrupted the moderator during discussion of Item 11 to say some people believed their votes had not been counted.

On Wednesday and Thursday, residents waited eagerly to find out whether the vote would hold.

Statement from Alexis Voulgaris, RTM Moderator, Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 sent to entire RTM 6:17pm

Following an exhaustive review of the voting at Tuesday evening’s RTM meeting, particularly with respect to the vote on the merits of item 10 as amended, I have been informed that the electronic voting system had no flaws or defects. That does not mean, of course, that it recorded a vote from every member who was present at the meeting at the time the vote was taken, or that it recorded every vote that a member might have intended to cast when the vote was taken.

As a general rule, for every vote that is taken in the RTM, there are members present during the vote who for some reason do not cast a vote. That was true for every vote taken Tuesday evening. For one example, there were 219 members present when the vote on the combined items was taken, yet only 213 members cast votes. For the vote on the merits of item 10, 219 members were present for the vote, but only 210 members cast votes.

As with any electronic device, operator error is a possible reason why the vote of a member who intended to vote, or thought that they had voted, is not recorded in the official tally of the final vote. A member might have pushed a button before the voting window opened, or after the window closed. The member might have thought the button was pushed properly but the device never registered being activated. It is for these precise reasons that the member has a means to verify that an attempt to activate the device was registered by the system. Both the handheld device and the online voting system indicate if a vote has been registered. The handheld device shows an “OK’ sign after it detects a button being pushed during an open voting window and it receives confirmation that the system recorded the vote. The number (1, 2, or 3) shown in the screen of the device informs the member what vote was recorded. A second means of confirmation that the vote was recorded is the large screen of all members. On Tuesday evening, a member’s name starts out in the color gray, and turns to blue when a vote is received.

The RTM rules provide that any member experiencing a problem using the voting system must immediately notify the Town Clerk if the member experiences any trouble casting a vote. (No member registered such notice prior to the announcement of the final vote on item 10.) The reason for that rule is directly related to one of the most important tenets of parliamentary procedure, which is the finality of a vote. After full and fair debate on an issue, particularly a contentious issue where the final vote might be close, the vote on the merits must bring closure to the issue. We would have chaos if we allowed members to wait for the announcement of the final vote before claiming that their vote was not properly counted for whatever reason (they were out of the room during the vote, they pressed the wrong button, the system did not register a vote even though they pressed a button, etc.). No vote would ever be final if we allowed such claims after the announcement of a vote.

Robert’s Rules codifies that basic principle of finality of votes by declaring that a vote is final once the chair announces the result of the vote and by limiting the reopening of a vote to a very few specific motions, including a motion for reconsideration and a motion to rescind. In this case, no motion for reconsideration was timely made. A motion to rescind can be made under certain circumstances. If any action is taken in reliance upon a vote before one of these motions is made, it becomes to late to make such a motion. Otherwise, a motion to rescind could be brought before the RTM in a proper way by placing it on the March Call (that is, with advance notice to the membership that it will be taken up at the March meeting). When advance notice of motion to rescind is given, the motion only requires a majority vote of those present to be adopted. (Without advance notice, the motion to rescind requires a 2/3rds vote of those present or a vote of a majority of the membership (116)).

I anticipate that our procedure for conducting electronic voting will be slightly changed in light of this experience. For example, the screen of members names may show the actual vote cast by the member (red/yellow/green) in real time while the voting window is open rather than merely showing (blue/gray) indicating that some vote was recorded. There will likely be other changes. Such changes might necessitate amendments to our rules.

But I wanted to inform the membership today that given the applicable rules and the results of the analysis of Tuesday evening’s vote, I have determined that the vote tally announced on Tuesday evening regarding item 10 is the final vote, subject only to a proper parliamentary device seeking to reopen that vote.

Alexis Voulgaris
RTM Moderator
January 19, 2023

Also, at 6:08pm, town clerk Jackie Budkins released this statement and link to a report from Meridia:

Please find the link below to the summary report and findings prepared by Meridia analyzing the electronic voting data from the January 17, 2023 RTM vote on Call Item No. 10. Meridia is the electronic voting platform provider for the RTM.

If the link below doesn’t work, please copy and paste it into a browser:

See also:

RTM Approval of $500K CTCL Grant in Jeopardy after Claims Votes Weren’t Counted Jan 18, 2023

RTM Controversy: Zuck Bucks, Conspiracy Theories, Leaked Emails and a $500,000 Private Grant Jan 16, 2023