Does it feel like the headlines are non-stop bad news lately?
Fortunately, I have some good news for you! Cities and states around the country are fighting back against big money in our elections and putting power in the hands of the people – here’s a quick roundup of some recent news:
In Howard County, Maryland, the County Council passed a Citizens’ Election program in June, which would create a small-donor matching system for county elections to give everyday people a bigger say in local politics. In 2016, voters said “yes” to the idea of creating the Citizens’ Election system, and the Council listened. Against the will of the people, the County Executive vetoed the bill passed by the Council, but the Council stood fast and overrode him earlier this month! The program will begin after the next election cycle, joining Montgomery County to become the second Maryland county with a small-donor elections program.
In Seattle, their innovative Democracy Voucher system is in use for the first time this year, after voters overwhelmingly voted to create the system in 2015. The program is democratizing city elections by giving every Seattle resident—not just those with deep pockets—a chance to invest in political campaigns with four $25 Democracy Vouchers. Most candidates are participating, and more than 21,000 Democracy Vouchers have already been turned in. The program has already expanded the pool of donors in the city. In fact, the primary election is still several weeks away, and the total number of donors to city races has already surpassed the total number of donors in those same races in 2015.
In Washington, D.C., a Fair Elections bill supported by a super majority of the D.C. City Council just had its first hearing. The bill would create a small-donor program for city elections, so that candidates including for the offices of Mayor, City Council, and Attorney General, can run without big-money backers. Instead, small contributions under $100 would be matched with public funds for participating candidates. The bill is on track for further action this fall, and the Washington Post editorial board recently came out in favor of the legislation.
Want an easy way to keep up with money-in-politics news from around the country? I host our weekly podcast, Every Voice Speaks – the only podcast featuring national and local money-in-politics news. Subscribe on iTunes or listen on our website – this week we talk about the consumer loan industry in North Carolina and give an update about our petition delivery at the Department of Justice this week.
Deputy Communications Director, Every Voice