Community Organizations Collecting Signatures to Place Powerful and Innovative Democracy Reform on November Ballot

ALBUQUERQUE – A coalition of democracy reform and social justice-oriented community organizations called The Albuquerque Democracy Project have initiated a petition drive in Albuquerque to amend the city’s charter, modernize the city’s public finance system, and significantly expand democratic participation. The groups, including Common Cause New Mexico, The Center for Civic Policy, Equality New Mexico (EQNM), Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLE), the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP) and the Working Families Party of New Mexico, will collect at least 19,480 legitimate signatures from registered Albuquerque voters.

Volunteer signature gatherers will be present at city polling locations across the city on Primary Election Day, June 5, 2018.

If successful in November, the charter amendment will make Albuquerque the second city in the country to implement an innovative program called “Democracy Dollars,” in which city residents will be mailed $25.00 coupons to contribute to qualified city candidates of their choosing. The voices of individual voters will be intensified under this new system. The vast majority of citizens who have not been able to make a monetary contribution under the old system will now be able to contribute their Democracy Dollars and engage with candidates in a more powerful way.

As part of the ballot question’s drive to update the city’s public financing of campaigns, the amendment will also boost participating mayoral candidates’ standard allocation to $1.75 per voter (from $1.00) to keep pace with modern day campaigns and bring the City of Albuquerque’s elections into compliance with new state election rules.

Albuquerque’s Mayor, Tim Keller, strongly supports this initiative.

“The city is required to make many changes to bring our elections into compliance with the new state law.  This initiative takes the first step toward that and can make our public finance system more feasible and accessible.  Other cities have used similar programs to engage more voters in local elections and get big money out of politics,” Keller said.

The use of Democracy Dollars is a modification to the city’s existing Open and Ethical Campaign Code, which was adopted by 69% of Albuquerque voters in 2005. The basics of the existing public financing program will remain the same—candidates who are willing to cap their expenditures and who qualify by collecting signatures and small contributions can receive a limited amount of funds from the city for their campaigns. The original rationale also remains—public financing allows more candidates who may not be wealthy or well-connected and it frees candidates from the need to raise large private contributions and instead, to focus on the voters themselves.

For more information on the Democracy Dollars campaign please contact: Heather Ferguson at 980-9086.