Polling machine auditing and Presidential Debates

Spending time in Waterbury yesterday gave me a lot to think about, some of which may find its way into the debate in Ridgefield this evening. Kathy Dopp of the National Election Data Archive writes that “the major problem with CT's audits is that it takes place so long after the election that anyone wanting to rig the election has loads of time” to tamper with the results. She points to efforts in Utah to require a mandatory vote count audit. There will be discussions over the coming weeks about how the vote count audit can be improved, and the concern about the time between the end of voting and the auditing of counting needs to be considered.

Another topic that was discussed at the Registrars’ office during the vote counting was the great income disparity between the poorer parts of Connecticut and the gold coast. When I got home, I found an email from a friend pointing to a great website for analyzing the 2000 census figures, www.zipskinny.com. It provided a stark contrast between parts of Connecticut.

In Weston (06883) and Darien (06820) the median income is $146,000 and only 2% of the people live below the poverty level. An hour up the road in Waterbury (06702) the median income is $11,000 with 40% of the people living below the poverty level. Head up into Hartford (06120) and the poverty level goes up to 44%.

This evening at 7 PM, there will be a debate in the Dayton Room of the Ridgefield Public Library, Main St. Ridgefield, CT when the Democratic Town Committees of Ridgefield, Wilton, Weston and Westport present representatives of various Democratic Presidential campaigns. Hopefully, this event will inject a bit of retail Presidential politics into Connecticut and many of you will attend. I will be there wearing my blogger hat.

I’ve been toying with questions that I would like to ask. Being there as a blogger, my thoughts for my initial question were something like, “With the growth of use of the Internet, the media landscape is changing. Anyone can publish online, and this has great potential for our democracy. How will your candidate make sure that the Internet’s potential to facilitate our democracy is not impeded? It is a broad question providing candidates opportunities to talk about net neutrality, copyright issues, media consolidation, media education, and so on.

Yet as I look at the numbers from Zipskinny, I am considering asking how the candidates plans will affect the vast income disparity in our country, and in our state, where one community, less than an hours drive from its neighbor has 20 times the poverty level and the median income level is less than a tenth of its neighbor.

Perhaps these questions are linked. What role does the mainstream media have in its lack of coverage of issues of poverty in America? What role does the Internet have in providing tools to help people out of poverty?

Let me know what you think should be asked for questions, and check back this evening, where I hope to live blog the debate.

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