Bloomington, Ind., Webcasting Candidate Forums

With election day approaching, voters in Bloomington, Ind., have a chance to meet candidates for city offices without leaving home -- and not because the political hopefuls are going door-to-door.

Candidates' forums for the first time are being broadcast online. Residents who can't tune into the pre-election festivities live can watch the programs at their leisure because the events will be archived on the Internet. "The live aspect is something that catches your eye, but what's really useful is the ability to go back to previous meetings," said Michael Chui, Bloomington's chief information officer.

Last month, Bloomington became one of the first cities in the country to broadcast all of its civic meetings online -- everything from meetings of the Bloomington Common Council to the Monroe County Community School Board to the Bloomington Planning Commission. All of those meetings are archived on the site (http://stream.hoosier.net/cats/), a collaboration of the city, the Monroe County Public Library and HoosierNet Inc., a local, nonprofit community Internet network.

To make people aware of the service, officials aired radio spots, ran newspaper ads and held demonstrations at council meetings and the library, Chui said.

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