Supervisors consider alternative voting methods

The Washington County Board of Supervisors is exploring alternative ways of voting.

Recently several supervisors expressed interest in possibly getting away from the traditional method of voting at county board meetings. Currently, when there is a role call vote, supervisors vote alphabetically by town, starting with the Argyle Supervisor and ending with the Whitehall Supervisor.

But some supervisors view that system as inequitable.

Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks said he doesn’t believe its fair for Argyle to always have the first vote, especially on resolutions the board may be divided on. He also believes the current system places too much pressure on supervisors from Whitehall and White Creek who always have to vote last.

 “It there’s a close vote, it places a lot of pressure on them and it shouldn’t be that way,” said Hicks, who chairs the board’s Government Operations Committee.

And because the county uses a weighted vote system where the most populous communities have a greater percentage of the vote, by the time the votes gets past Kingsbury, more than 80 percent of the vote has already been determined.

“I think we should switch up the order kind of like your iPod when you hit shuffle,” Hicks said. “I think that would make it more fair.”

One solution would be to reverse the order so that every other vote Whitehall would vote first and Argyle last, Hicks said.

Another idea is for supervisors to vote electronically at the same time. Instead of asking each supervisor aloud what their vote would be officials would instead press a button to cast their vote, with the results appearing on a wall.

The idea would be that each supervisor would cast their vote without knowing how their peers had voted.

The system may also speed up the voting process. Currently, Debbie Prehoda, Washington County Board of Supervisors clerk has to plug each vote into a computer and tabulate the outcome, which adds time and an air of drama to each vote.

Whitehall Supervisor George Armstrong said he was in favor of changing to an electronic voting system if implementation was economically feasible.

“I think it would be good. It doesn’t bother me I’m last to vote. A majority of the time I have my mind made up before we vote but there are some vote counters.

As long as it doesn’t cost a lot of money I’m in favor of anything that makes it easier and faster,” Armstrong said.

Hicks said no one was opposed to the idea, although Easton Supervisor Daniel Shaw said he preferred the current method.

Hicks said the board will explore the cost and feasibility of an electronic voting system and Prehoda was expected to explore alternative methods of voting in the coming months.

 

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