Letter: Can technology make Town Meeting more inclusive?

May 19, 2023

In 1775, Concord Minutemen struck a major blow to the British in the fight for freedom and democracy. Even today, almost two hundred and fifty years later, we as a town pride ourselves on being democratic and fair. Yet the decisions that are being made for this town of 18,466 people are being made by 728 people who were able to attend on Sunday afternoon and Monday evening (lasting eight hours).

But do these 728 people represent the interests of all 18,466 Concordians? These people are not randomly sampled. These people have enough time and resources, not to mention the physical stamina to go to this meeting. By its current standard we are excluding those who have care obligations and jobs to work during this time.

We are drifting away from what can be described as a democracy thanks to our stubbornness to adopt a new system, despite being one of the first places to rebel and fight for democracy. Democracy requires participation, yet these figures show less than 20% of eligible voters attended the first day, and less than 10% did the second night.

This low level of participation is embarrassing in a town that considers itself the birthplace of the American Revolution. There is something fundamentally wrong with our system that we need to fix.

Might I offer a suggestion? A quick look at the census data shows that 96 percent of Concord residents have a computer and internet access. We keep town meeting as is, with all the articles, motions and debates, but without the voting. We record and/or stream it for remote viewing by all voters at a time that is convenient for them, followed by a town wide election where as many voters as possible can weigh in by casting their ballot.

Henry Mauer

Laws Brook Road