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Publicly funded elections

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A publicly funded election is an election which is funded with federal tax and/or income tax.

In the United States

Methods of publicly funded election legislation have been adopted in Colorado, Maine, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Arizona, North Carolina, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Massachusetts. In addition, public funding of elections have been incorporated at the municipal level in several cities.[citation needed] Wisconsin's 33 year old program was defunded by the state legislature in 2011 by Gov. Scott Walker and the legislature's joint finance committee. California recently overturned its ban on publicly funded elections, but charter cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles were already exempt from the ban and already have some form of public financing.[1]

Some of these laws have run into constitutional problems in the courts. When the Citizens United v. FEC decision defined money as a form of speech, the movement toward limiting campaign spending and publicly financing campaigns was stopped in several cities and states, although many of the core programs were kept in place. Some portions (such as state supplemental funds for publicly financed candidates whose opponents outspend them) of the Vermont system were found newly unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Randall v. Sorrell., but the core program of full funding of governor and lieutenant governor candidates remains in place. Portions of Connecticut's statute were held unconstitutional in 2009, on the grounds that it unfairly discriminated against third party and independent candidates, but the core program of full funding of constitutional and legislative candidates remains in place.[2] In July 2010 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld portions of the district court's order but allowed the core program to continue.[3]

On June 27, 2011, ruling in the consolidated cases Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett and McComish v. Bennett, the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional the matching-funds provision of the Arizona law.[4] The decision cast doubt on the new constitutionality of similar provisions in Maine, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. As a result, the Wisconsin legislature eliminated funding for its judicial elections in 2011.[citation needed]

Voters have not supported publicly funded elections in several referendums. In Massachusetts the system was repealed after a 2002 advisory initiative in which voters voted nearly 2 to 1 against using government funds to pay for political campaigns. Portland, Oregon's program was narrowly repealed by voters in a 2010 referendum.[5] In 2008, a Clean Elections bill, the California Fair Elections Act (AB583) passed the California Assembly and Senate and was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Because of the ban on publicly funded elections, the law had to be approved by voters in an initiative in June 2010. On June 8, 2010, California voters decided against the measure by 57% to 43%.[6] An earlier Clean Elections ballot initiative that suggested funding elections with a business tax, Proposition 89 was also defeated in California in 2006, by 74% against to 26% in favor of a corporate tax to fund elections. A Clean Elections ballot initiative in Alaska failed by a 64% to 35% margin in August 2008.[7]

In 2013, North Carolina repealed its popular "Voter Owned Elections" program of public financing of judicial campaigns with 900 people arrested at the Moral Monday protests in Raleigh.[8]

Comprehensive public funding systems have been in effect in Arizona and Maine since 2000. In Maine, since enactment, approximately three quarters of state legislators have run their campaigns with government funds provided by the state program.[9] In Arizona, a majority of the state house[citation needed] and both the Republican and Democratic candidates for Governor ran publicly financed campaigns in 2006. There has not yet been a statewide election in Maine in which both the Republican and Democratic candidates were financed through the public financing system.[citation needed]

Seattle voters approved the Democracy voucher program in 2015, which gives city residents four $25 vouchers to donate to participating candidates.[10] Since then, activists have pushed for democracy vouchers in other jurisdictions, arguing that the program would make political donors more reflective of the population, empower candidates to fundraise without relying on big donors, and decrease the influence of special interest groups over government.[11]

Denver votes passed the Fair Elections Act in 2018 with 72% of the vote and a win in every precinct in the city. The law went into effect on January 1, 2020. The Fair Elections Act, which began as The Democracy For The People Initiative, has four major features: a ban on donations from corporations; the required disclosure of dark money sources; lowering the relatively high limits for the City of Denver to be on scale with the more reasonable statewide limits in Colorado; and a public funding component that provides a 9-to-1 match on contributions up to $50 for candidates who opt-in and don't take any money other than contributions from individuals.

In Other Countries

The United Kingdom, Norway, India, Russia, Brazil, Nigeria, Sweden are some jurisdictions where methods of publicly funded election legislation and the reasons for the need of alternatives to privately funded campaigns have been considered.

Clean Elections: Differences from traditional reforms

"Clean Elections" is the name supporters have given to some public financing efforts, used most prominently in Maine and Arizona.

Some Clean Elections laws provide a government grant to candidates who agree to limit their spending and private fundraising. Candidates participating in a Clean Elections system are required to meet certain qualification criteria, which usually includes collecting a number of signatures and small contributions (generally determined by statute and set at $5 in both Maine and Arizona) before the candidate can receive public support. In most Clean Elections programs, these qualifying contributions must be given by constituents. To receive the government campaign grant, "Clean Candidates" must agree to forgo all other fundraising and accept no other private or personal funds. Candidates who choose not to participate are subject to limits on their fundraising, typically in the form of limits on the size of contributions they may accept and the sources of those contributions (such as limits on corporate or union contributions), and detailed reporting requirements.[citation needed]

In the US, in order to comply with Buckley v. Valeo, participation by candidates is not legally required. Originally, many Clean Elections programs provided that publicly financed candidates who were outspent by a privately funded candidate could receive additional funds (sometimes called "rescue funds") to match their privately funded opponent, up to a cap, with the intent of assuring that a candidate running with private funding would not outspend his government funded opponent. However, in Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, the U.S. Supreme Court held that such "rescue fund" provisions unconstitutionally burdened the rights of speakers by intentionally limiting the effectiveness of their own speech. Thus since Bennett clean elections systems in the U.S. have been forced to abandon the "rescue funds" approach.

US supporters

In the US, SB 752, the Fair Elections Now Act, calling for publicly funded elections in U.S. Senate campaigns, was sponsored in the 111th Congress (2009–10) by Senators: Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Arlen Specter (D-PA).[12] A companion bill, H.R. 1826, was introduced in the House, sponsored by John Larson (D-CT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Walter Jones (R-NC). Unlike the Clean Elections laws in Maine and Arizona, H.R. 1826 did not include the "rescue funds" provision, perhaps due to concern about constitutionality in the wake of the Davis decision. Neither bill moved out of committee.[citation needed]

Others who have endorsed clean elections include:

See also

Country-specific (International):


  1. ^ Lueders, Bill (2011-06-30). "Campaign financing dead in Wisconsin". Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  2. ^ "Connecticut Campaign Finance Law Ruled Unconstitutional". Wall Street Journal. 28 August 2009. Archived from the original on 14 September 2018. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  3. ^ Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield (2d Cir. 13 July 2010).Text
  4. ^ Vogel, Kenneth P. (2011-06-27). "Narrow ruling on campaign finance". Politico.
  5. ^ "November 2010 General Election - Official Results". The City of Portland Oregon.
  6. ^ Kanalley, Craig (2010-06-09). "Huffington Post". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
  7. ^ "2008 Primary Election Results". Anchorage Daily News. 21 October 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-01-02. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
  8. ^ Smith, Adam (2013-07-26). "North Carolina Legislature Repeals Popular "Voter Owned Elections" Program". Public Campaign. Archived from the original on 2013-10-09.
  9. ^ "Maine Ethics Commission: Maine Clean Election Act (MCEA)". Retrieved 2011-01-05.
  10. ^ Young, Bob (November 3, 2015). "'Democracy vouchers' win in Seattle; first in country". Seattle Times. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  11. ^ "Democracy Policy Network". Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  12. ^ "S. 752: Fair Elections Now Act". Retrieved 2011-01-05.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "April 13, 2009". The Nation. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
  17. ^ John Edwards for President-One Democracy Initiative: Returning Washington To Regular People Archived 2007-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Sen. McCain Embraces Clean Elections In Arizona Big Boost To Public Financing Seen". 12 June 2002. Archived from the original on 2011-05-25.
  20. ^ "Dialing for Clean Dollars". Retrieved 2011-01-05.
  21. ^ "Candidate Challenge: John McCain". YouTube. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "One New York" (PDF). State of the State 2007. p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-26. Full public financing must be the ultimate goal of our reform effort.
  24. ^ "Biden to roll out new ethics plan that would require publicly financed elections". NBC News. Retrieved 2020-03-20.

External links



Related organizations

Press coverage

This page was last edited on 20 January 2021, at 19:50
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