Citizen-funded elections are a practical, proven reform that puts voters in control of democracy.
Across the country, Americans running for local, state and federal office are routinely asked the same initial question. It’s not about their issues, passion for their community, or past accomplishments.
Instead, it’s about funding: “How much money can you raise?”
Unfortunately, an ability to generate funding—either from wealthy donors, special interest groups, or other sources—has become an essential requirement to run for office. And it doesn’t stop once a candidate is elected. Op-eds written by elected officials lament the time they must spend asking for money—which is increasingly taking up more and more of their day.
Then there are the other problems that stem from money in politics. Candidates can feel beholden to their top donors, who essentially use their money to purchase political access. Less wealthy communities that would not yield high campaign contributions are ignored by representatives.
Perhaps the most unfortunate result is that passionate, capable individuals who would make phenomenal advocates for their communities are deterred from running for office.
Is there any hope for change? We think so. New, innovative campaign finance systems are springing up in cities throughout the country. These programs incentivize candidates to rely on individuals—as opposed to wealthy special interests—to fund their campaigns.
Citizen-funded election systems mean:
- More ordinary people are able to run for public office
- Candidates spend more time listening to and meeting with their constituents, instead of consistently focusing on raising big money from just a handful of donors
- Elected officeholders are reflective of the community at large and share similar values and experiences with everyday voters
- Elected officials are less indebted to a narrow set of big money funders, and are more accountable to all voters
- Policies and laws are more responsive to public needs and less skewed by wealthy special interests
A robust public financing campaign system cuts the corrupting influence of private campaign contributions out of our democracy. Let’s bring balance to our democracy, making it accountable to We The People, ensuring everyone has an equal voice and equal say.