Archive - May 8, 2012

Social Media and Local Politics: 2012 Amity Budget Referendum Results

Another year, another budget referendum. Last year, the referendum passed, 870 to 542. This year, it passed 917 to 597. There was also a bonding issue, which passed 952 to 558. I tweeted the results and they were cross posted to Facebook. Instead of putting the results into tables on the blog, I also created a Google Doc with the results for the past three years, together with some enrollment information.

As is usually the case around the polling location, it was congenial and there were interesting discussions. Some of which was about election day registration. With the voting systems in place, if a person is registered to vote in a different municipality, they will be able to get their registration changed to the new municipality on election day. Of course this is only for Connecticut. It would be great to see voting systems between different states connect, if even just on one by one basis, like Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Already, there is some information that gets shared back and forth between states, such as when a person changes their driver's license or registration. This can be used for updating voting information. However, it does present interesting problems for people who split their time equally between two states, or even worse, between multiple states. Besides the issues of voting, there are car registration, insurance, and tax issues.

With that, as I mentioned last year, for municipal finance issues, people who are property holders can vote in elections in Woodbridge, even if they are registered to vote elsewhere. It makes sense. If you are paying property taxes somewhere, you should have some say in how they get spent. Yet this does not mean you can register to vote in multiple places. That remains a felony.

Meanwhile, up at the capitol, the legislature was arguing about revisions to the campaign finance laws, particularly around changing the disclosure rules for independent expenditures. It passed the House and is waiting to be heard in the Senate. The discussion got into some interesting points that perhaps should be considered in separate bills.

When is Facebook activity a campaign contribution or an in kind third party expenditure? This is something that has been argued in the past. Is it the value of what is given, or the cost to give it? If I make positive comments about a candidate, and I have thousands of followers, is that worth more than a comment by someone with hundreds of followers? If I'm a paid social media personality, is the value of my comments greater than someone who is on Facebook just for fun? Does it matter if I'm posting on my own page or some specific Facebook Fan page? When is, or should a disclosure statement be issued in social media? Do you need one on each tweet in Twitter? Can all of this be dismissed as 'de minimis'?

Then there are the issues of public access television, and for that matter newsletters or other forms of publications.

With that, it's getting late, and I'll save these questions for later, perhaps while I'm covering a congressional or state convention. These conventions are coming up starting this weekend.

(Categories: )