Democracy Dollars: Join Us for a Social Media Day of Action!

What is the #DemocracyDollarsEvanston day of action?

On Friday, August 13th, Common Cause Illinois is hosting a big social media day of action to promote campaign finance reform in Evanston. Anytime between 12-2pm, we invite you to tweet and post online to express your support! We have a toolkit that includes sample Twitter and Facebook posts as well as a call script for residents to reach out to their City Council members and voice their support for fairer elections in Evanston. Ultimately, we hope to get the hashtag #DemocracyDollarsEvanston trending and raise public awareness of this opportunity for reform.

What is the goal?

The goal of our day of action is to raise public awareness and support for campaign finance reform in Evanston. There’s a lot of work we need to do as a community to create sustainable change to the campaigning process in Evanston, but the very first step is creating public discussions so that City Council pays attention.

What would a Democracy Dollars program look like?

We are basing our Democracy Dollars proposal on a similar program in Seattle, wherein all eligible residents received four $25 coupons that they could donate to the candidate or candidates of their choice. This promotes equity in campaign financing because it enables voters to contribute to campaigns without the financial burden of personal cash donations. Though we don’t necessarily have the information or the authority to propose a specific dollar amount for a potential Evanston program, this is the basic idea.

For local elections in Seattle, the city mailed paper vouchers to registered voters a few months before the election. The voters can either mail the vouchers in or assign their vouchers digitally through the city’s website. Candidates and campaign workers also have blank replacement voucher forms, and they can personally ask residents to sign over vouchers as well. As a condition of accepting the vouchers, candidates must agree to restrictions on campaign contributions and spending, helping to curb the overwhelming influence of big money in the campaigning process. The program in Seattle costs about $3 million in property taxes (with the city being much larger than Evanston).

Is there a specific bill we’re advocating for?

The mechanics of the Democracy Dollars program needs to be worked out by City Council with lots of input from community members and other stakeholders – this is a process that will take time to make sure we get it right. In the meantime, we need to start raising awareness about what the possibilities are for campaign finance reform in Evanston. We’ve picked a hypothetical Democracy Dollars program (based off of successful programs in Seattle and elsewhere) to show one powerful possibility. The end goal of this campaign is to push this issue into the public consciousness locally, and to build a basis for a potential future CCIL campaign focused on specific legislation.

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