Democracy Dollars in Evanston

From national-level to local and municipal elections, big money has an incredibly outsized influence on who takes public office. This makes for less representative governments that have real impacts on public policy, sometimes in opposition to the true majority. For this reason, we need to enact reforms that both lower the barrier to entry in running for office and reduce the influence of big donors in politics.

In Evanston, multiple prominent members of government have championed some kind of public funding of elections. Evanston council members and other government leaders have spoken in support of a “voucher system” wherein eligible citizens have the opportunity to donate a certain amount of public funds to a campaign of their choice. Since this doesn’t come out of their own pocket, it’s an effective system for promoting equity in representation and opportunity to support political campaigns. Passing this type of legislation in Evanston would be a big win for the city’s democracy, but could also serve as a model for other municipalities – maybe even Chicago, where big money interests like corporate PACs and wealthy individuals tend to exert much more influence than in smaller cities like Evanston.

Because of the potential implications of programs like this, Common Cause Illinois is excited to announce the launch of the Democracy Dollars Evanston campaign. This effort will attempt to raise public awareness and opinion of a voucher-like system for campaign funding in the City of Evanston. Our aim is to kickstart change in the city (and potentially in surrounding areas) in this vital aspect of democratic elections, and to promote equity and representation for all in local government.