Frequently Asked Questions

What is public financing and how does it work?

  • It's an optional system- candidates are free to raise money and campaign following the rules of the current system
  • To participate in public financing, a candidate must collect a set number (determined by the city) of small donations from residents within his/her district
    • Ex: Candidate A asks 200 people in his district for donations of $5-$50
  • The candidate then receives a predetermined amount of money from the city to spend on his/her campaign.
    • Amount is typically equal to the average amount the winner spent for the seat of the past 3 elections
  • If a publicly financed candidate is outspent by a candidate not using the system, he/she is eligible for "rescue funds" that match the spending of the candidate not participating in public financing


The benefits of public financing for local elections

  • Eliminates the influence of wealthy special interest money
  • Reduces overall campaign spending
  • Frees candidates from the money chase
  • Increases candidate contact with voters
  • Eliminates spending gap between incumbents and challengers
  • Gives voters more choice at the polls
  • Increases competitiveness of elections


The success of public financing in North Carolina

  • Nine sitting members of North Carolina's Court of Appeals and State Supreme Court have won election as public financed candidates including men, women, African Americans, whites, Democrats and Republicans
  • In 2008, the option of public financing will be available for three North Carolina Council of State offices (State Insurance commissioner, State Auditor and State School Superintendent)
  • The North Carolina General Assembly has authorized the town of Chapel Hill to experiment with public financing for its 2009 and 2011 municipal elections.


North Carolina citizen attitudes about big money in politics

(July poll commissioned by the NC Center for Voter Education)

  • 92% believe campaign contributions influence decisions of elected officials
  • 83% believe elected official more concerned with needs of campaign contributors than needs of constituents
  • Public Financing programs for North Carolina (Judicial & Council of State) supported by a better than 2 to 1 margin

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