Representative goes up Great Blue Hill to cast remote vote
State Rep. William Driscoll went to the top of Great Blue Hill to participate in the House’s first remote vote.
By Fred Hanson, The Patriot Ledger
MILTON, MAY 8, 2020 — State Rep. William Driscoll, D-Milton, usually casts his votes on bills in the historical House chamber atop Beacon Hill.
He was atop another hill when he cast the first remote vote in the history of the Legislature on Wednesday: Great Blue Hill, the highest point in Eastern Massachusetts and the place where the state gets its name.
Driscoll had been planning to vote sitting in his car parked in the driveway of his East Milton home to avoid being disturbed by his two young sons: Will, 4½, and Robbie, 1½. But, a bit of time opened up and he decided to take a drive across town to Great Blue Hill.
“I thought about where I could go, since I haven’t been out of the house very much since March 14,” Driscoll said in an interview. “I thought it was as good a spot as any.”
Driscoll added he was aware of the history of the hill when he made the choice. He was also aware of its proximity to a mobile phone antenna, since he didn’t want any problems with the first remote vote.
And, he noted that the Blue Hills Weather Observatory at the hill’s summit has not missed an observation since 1884. Driscoll said he hasn’t missed a vote during his two terms in the Legislature.
He said he patched the proceedings on one smartphone, while keeping a second for the vote itself, which came on a bill to authorize the state to borrow money in anticipation of the delayed state income tax receipts. The state and federal income tax filing deadlines had been extended for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Driscoll and State Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, both members of the House COVID-19 Working group, were the chief architects of the remote voting process.
The state gets its name from the Massachusett native American nation, who lived in the area and whose name meant “place of the great hill,” a reference to the 640-foot Great Blue Hill. The hill is also the origin of the call letters of Boston public TV and radio stations WGBH, whose radio tower sits on the hill’s summit.
Fred Hanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.