The People of Illinois Deserve More Power
Common Cause Illinois believes that our democracy works best when everyone has an equal voice and elected officials are held accountable. Unfortunately, wealthy special interests drown out the voices of everyday people. That’s not how our democracy should work – the size of your wallet shouldn’t determine the strength of your voice. It’s why we supported HR 1 / SR 1, the For the People Act and why we continue to fight for campaign finance reform at the state and local level.
In 2022, we’re working on proving that campaign finance reform does work by piloting a program in Evanston, Illinois. If Evanston can pass campaign finance reform and prove that it does indeed restore power the people, that can serve as a template for local and even statewide reforms. Simply put, we cannot wait for Congress to act.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s dangerous and disastrous decisions in Citizens’ United and McCutcheon, it is clear that we must do more to strengthen the voice of citizens against the growing influence of special interest money. Nationwide, there is tremendous energy building as more and more cities, counties and states adopt campaign finance reform. Starting in Evanston, Illinois can join this rapidly growing club and continue to be a leader in the elections space.
What is Small-Donor Match?
Small-donor match is a system where small-dollar donations are matched at a predetermined rate by the government for candidates that choose to participate in the program. For example, for every $1 donated to a participating campaign, the governing body would match those dollars at a 4-to-1 ratio. Taking it a step further, if a donor contributed $10, that donation would then be matched by an additional $40, making the total donation $50.
Why Small-Donor Match?
• Ordinary people can run for and win public office.
• Ordinary people fund campaigns, so they can hold public officials accountable.
• Candidates spend more time listening to and meeting with their constituents, instead of 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.
• Policies and laws are more responsive to public needs and less skewed by wealthy special interests.
The time is right to pass campaign finance reform in Illinois. With an eye to scaling the program up, the place to start is at a smaller level – the City of Evanston. Not only would Evanston serve as a model and staging ground for growing the program, but we also have a champion in Mayor Daniel Biss, who has long been a supporter of campaign finance reform. It’s time.