Strengthening Fairness, Honesty, and Independence: The Vital Role of Electronic Voting Systems for Board Members

A common problem faced by many local governments who use traditional verbal roll call voting during their legislative meetings is peer pressure and undue influence. This situation may be familiar to you: When the first board member is called to cast their vote, all the rest of the board members vote the same way.

This is a significant issue that is preventing fair and effective local governance. A popular solution to empower board members and conduct effective governance is electronic voting systems. Here are a few ways electronic voting systems help.

1. Independence and Honesty

Verbal roll call voting can disadvantage quieter or less assertive board members, potentially causing groupthink in the meeting setting rather than each member giving their own honest opinion. Electronic voting systems, however, provide an equal and private platform for all board members to impact the result of the vote.

Electronic voting systems promote independence by giving every board member an equal opportunity to request to speak and privately cast their votes. This ensures that every voice is heard and every vote carries equal weight, fostering a climate where decisions are based on each member’s opinion rather than on the assertiveness of individuals. 

2. Prevent Undue Influence

Undue influence can erode the impartiality of board members and compromise the integrity of their decisions. Legislative meetings can expose board members to external pressures or interpersonal dynamics that may unduly sway their judgment. Electronic voting systems offer a solution by allowing members to cast votes privately, and their votes are not revealed until the vote is tallied.

This insulation from external influences empowers board members to make decisions based on their convictions and the genuine needs of their communities, ensuring that the decision-making process remains untainted.

Council meeting electronic voting system in the City of Wausau, WI.

Eau Claire County in Wisconsin uses the OpenMeeting electronic voting system to cast their votes during their board meeting. All votes are private until tallied.

3. Fairness and Equal Opportunity

Fairness is the cornerstone of any just governance system. During discussion, it is sometimes difficult for the board chair to be objective in giving everyone a chance to speak, especially when many board members wish to weigh in on an issue.

Electronic voting systems, if also equipped with request-to-speech discussion management, give the chair more control over discussion. With the OpenMeeting system, board members request to speak electronically, and their requests automatically appear in order on the Chair’s dashboard. The Chair can then see all the requests in a list and recognize each speaker, ensuring everyone has a fair and equal chance to voice their opinion and ask questions.

In the complex world of local governance, electronic voting systems are more than mere technological innovations; they are indispensable tools that fortify board members’ ability to govern with fairness, honesty, and independence.

Embracing electronic voting systems sends a powerful message of commitment to the principles of just governance. These systems level the playing field, making certain that each voice is heard, and every vote counts. Most importantly, they shield board members from undue influence, safeguarding the integrity of their decisions.

As local governance evolves, electronic voting systems will continue to serve as an essential ally in preserving fairness, honesty, and independence in the decision-making process. Together, board members can uphold these fundamental values and fulfill their responsibilities to their communities with unwavering dedication and integrity.

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