Virtual town meeting

Date of Completion

January 2010


Information Technology|Political Science, General




The concept of virtual town meeting permits eligible voters to participate in the legislative function of town meetings without the necessity of being physically present. Remote participation is via electronic means, using live cablecasting and webcasting of the physical town meeting and live emailing to permit remote participants to be part of the deliberations and to vote on motions. ^ This dissertation reports on tests of the virtual town meeting concept carried out in Salem, Connecticut in the period 2008–2010. It describes the electronic implementation hardware and software employed in the tests and the processes used to assure the smooth and secure functioning of the virtual town meetings. ^ This dissertation also reports on a case study survey of eligible town meeting participants to ascertain the distribution of feelings of political efficacy amongst various groups, age cohorts and genders. The results of the survey are compared to NES data cited by Niemi, Craig and Mattei. Conclusions are drawn with regard to how to measure and index political efficacy data, the correlation between the availability of remote town meeting participation and feelings of political efficacy and the potential role of virtual town meetings in future evaluations of participatory and deliberative democracy. ^