Falmouth Town Meeting Returns to ‘Old School’ Vote Counting — This Time

Written by Laura M. Reckford

FALMOUTH – In his many decades of being a teller at Falmouth Town Meeting, responsible for counting votes, Andy Dufresne, 92, has never malfunctioned. But the new electronic voting system that theoretically replaced Dufresne and others did tonight.

So Falmouth Town Moderator David Vieira called upon Dufresne, along with another longtime teller Joseph Netto and also Mr. Dufresne’s daughter, Sandra Cuny, to serve as tellers at the Spring Annual Town Meeting, which began tonight at 7pm.

For those unfamiliar with the traditional New England Town Meeting, the tellers are the people who count the people standing during the standing votes. Standing votes happen when voice votes are too close to call. After counting those who are standing, the tellers give the count to the moderator. Then the moderator determines which side prevailed.

Falmouth Town Meeting member and longtime teller Andy Dufresne

The very first use of the electronic voting system at tonight’s meeting was for the quorum count, which comes before the Town Meeting can start to ensure there is a quorum of Town Meeting voters present. But the electronic system did not come up with a quorum number.

Vieira, frustration heavy in his voice, said, “We never had that problem” of with longtime tellers, the people who counted the votes.

Vieira then reminded Town Meeting members that he was not the one who brought the electronic gadgets into Town Meeting. The Rules Committee tasked with studying the issue recommended them, he said.

The second attempt to use the electronic system at tonight’s meeting was for the second vote of the meeting, to pass the “blanket” vote. The “blanket vote” is to pass articles that Town Meeting members decide to approve without discussion, The electronic system again malfunctioned.

From the balcony at the Spring Annual Falmouth Town Meeting.

At that point, Vieira said, “We will be using the tellers until they can see if this fancy stuff can be worked out. Otherwise, we’re going old school. We’re not going to hold up Town Meeting over this.”

At the next close vote, where a voice vote could not be determined, Vieira spoke his traditional instruction, the one he has used year after year before those fancy electronic gadgets made an appearance in 2017:

Vieira said, “All those in favor, signify by standing and the tellers will return the count.”

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About the author

Laura M. Reckford

Laura M. Reckford is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. She has been a reporter and editor on Cape Cod for more than 20 years in magazines, newspapers and radio. She has also authored numerous Frommer's Travel Guide editions on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

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