To the Editor,
My letter last week stated that I would form a small group with the expertise to analyze the failure of electronic voting at our special town meeting. This is an update on progress.
Four individuals have kindly agreed to help. Jim Starkey is a software engineer, entrepreneur and database architect who has worked on network issues since the early days of the ARPAnet. He has assisted the Town on electronic voting since we first introduced it. Lee Spence has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and has worked with radar and communication systems for over 50 years. His experience includes assessing performance of links similar to those used by the EV system. Kurt Melden has more than 35 years’ experience designing data networking and communication products for worldwide markets. He most recently served as Chief Scientist at Juniper Networks. Bob Moffett has provided audio-visual services for Manchester’s town meeting since 2020, including radio frequency (RF) coordination for simultaneous use of multiple RF devices. He provides similar services to the Regional School District and other municipalities.
The failure at this town meeting was completely different from that encountered at the fall meeting in 2022. We conducted that meeting in two rooms with two laptops operated by the vendor’s staff. The laptops communicated through one of the vendor’s servers. Jim Starkey analyzed the server’s software and found that it was programmed to terminate communication between the laptops in a short time. Since the discussion of articles exceeded the time limit, the server cut the link before voting began. We therefore had to conduct separate counts in the two rooms and add them together manually. Whatever the problem was this time, it was not the same: we were in one room using a single laptop.
No one can be more frustrated than I am with another electronic voting failure. It is critical not only that the system work, but that we have confidence in the results. I am sure that Jim, Lee, Kurt and Bob will solve the problem.
Manchester Town Moderator