MORGAN -- Morgan County will now allow its council members to vote electronically when absent from meetings.
"When a council member is absent from a meeting, there exists a possibility of a tie vote with no decision rendered," said Councilman Don Mathews, who initiated the recent resolution. "Sometimes these issues require an immediate decision."
The council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday allowing use of electronic conferencing for meeting attendance and voting requirements. Electronic votes and participation will be noted as such in the official council minutes.
Already this year, the absence of a council member prevented a decision from being made in a timely manner, Mathews said.
"Fortunately, it was an item that was not as urgent, but suppose this had been an item that dealt with flood-prevention issues? There is a higher sense of urgency in making a decision like that," Mathews wrote in an email.
"Without having the ability to participate electronically, the decision will not come for two weeks at the next regularly scheduled council meeting."
The new resolution entitles council members to vote as if they were personally and physically present at the meeting site if they are absent for personal illness or disability, a family emergency or employment purposes.
"If a member has an illness and does not want to expose the other council members to their infirmity, they can participate from home," Mathews said. "The same holds true for members taking vacation or away on a business trip."
Although electronic voting and participation will now be allowed, a quorum of council members must physically be present at the location of the meeting. Members wishing to participate electronically must provide 24 hours' advance notice to the county clerk.
Under the resolution, the county will take steps to provide security and identification procedures to ensure that those attending and voting electronically are indeed authorized members of the council.
The resolution cautions council members from abusing the new provision by using it unnecessarily and regularly.
Mathews said: "All members of the council take their positions seriously and want to be involved in many decisions that come before them."