The Vermont State Legislature has deployed an Everbridge platform to facilitate remote voting by state lawmakers in order to keep legislators, reporters, and Statehouse staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remote voting is a first in Vermont, where legislative business has always been conducted in person. Lawmakers approved the virtual voting measure to allow Senators and House members to pass legislation without packing into the Statehouse, where small committee rooms make it difficult to follow social distancing guidelines. The successful secure remote voting model serves as a best practice to protect other state and federal lawmakers from the pandemic.
More than a month after departing the Statehouse to avoid spreading the coronavirus, Vermont’s House of Representatives began remotely passing bills that are intended to address the pandemic. Meeting over video conference and using the Everbridge mobile app to cast their votes, the Vermont General Assembly – consisting of the 150-member House and 30-member Senate – last week approved a series of COVID-19 measures. In recent weeks, the House held several practice sessions and one-on-one trainings with members to get them comfortable with the new technology. On Thursday, lawmakers conducted over 20 separate secure votes – using the Everbridge platform – on bills, resolutions, and items related to bill advancement through committees.
“It’s a new frontier for all of us,” Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe told reporters after the vote. “But one of the byproducts is that the use of technology is proving to open up the doors of state government — especially the legislative process — more than ever. We want to model what we’re expecting the people of Vermont to do to keep people safe.”
According to a March 30 post by Representative Kathleen James published in the Bennington Banner, Everbridge is “already used by our Capitol Police. It offers a secure way to vote, and to verify who’s voting. We’re also making sure every legislator is comfortable with the technology, so we can stay squarely focused on our highest priority: ensuring the health and safety of Vermonters.”
“The Vermont State Legislature demonstrates leadership by serving as a role model for adhering to social distancing best practices,” said Brian Toolan, Senior Director of Government Strategy at Everbridge. “We’re honored to have Everbridge power this important government use case without sacrificing security or compliance, or slowing down the legislative process. When it comes to protecting legislators and staff or providing critical communications for citizens, Everbridge, a FedRAMP-authorized company, makes for the perfect partner across state, local and the federal government.”
FedRAMP Authorization certifies that Everbridge has passed the rigorous security and risk management review process required to offer its Everbridge Suite solution to federal agencies, a mandate by OMB for any cloud service provider that serves the federal government.
While supporting remote voting represents a new and innovative use of Everbridge’s solutions in Vermont, the State has utilized the platform for more than three years. In addition to Vermont, Everbridge supports several statewide deployments such as New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, and California.