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Maine, Seattle Voters Pass Money-In-Politics Reforms to Empower Everyday People

November 4, 2015 | Adam Smith

From Coast to Coast, Voters Send Message to Nation: We Can Fix Our Broken Campaign Finance System

Voters in Maine and Seattle approved initiatives Tuesday to raise the voices of ordinary people in the political process and reduce the influence of wealthy special interests. These victories show that states and cities aren’t waiting on a gridlocked Washington, D.C. to fix our broken campaign finance system and are instead taking matters into their own hands, said money-in-politics group Every Voice.

“Literally from coast to coast, voters said clearly that the time has come for bold solutions to reduce the influence of big money in politics,” said David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice. “With Washington, D.C. mired in gridlock and while the presidential race seems only focused on who can befriend the most billionaires, these victories show that voters aren’t waiting for Washington, D.C. to act. Instead, Americans are taking matters into their own hands.”

In Maine, by a vote of 55-45, voters approved an initiative to strengthen the state’s landmark Clean Elections system that will strengthen disclosure and enforcement requirements and restore the small-donor public financing system, so candidates can run competitive campaigns for office.  Mainers voted to preserve the nation’s most blue-collar legislature and ensure that farmers, waitresses, and factory workers are still able to run and win elected office without having to rely on lobbyists and wealthy special interests.

“Today Mainers sent a message loud and clear. We want transparency. We want a government accountable to everyday people. And, we want a strong public financing Clean Election law that puts voters in control of our democracy – not wealthy special interests and high paid lobbyists. With tonight’s victory – that’s exactly what we will get,” said Andrew Bossie, Executive Director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, who along with Mainers for Accountable Elections lead a massive statewide grassroots effort to pass the initiative.

Across the country in Seattle, where they have all-mail ballots, early results show Initiative 122 will easily cruise to victory. Voters there said “Yes” to creating a first-in-the-nation system that will democratize city elections by giving every voter a chance to invest in political campaigns through a “Democracy Voucher” program. The initiative also limits contributions for city contractors, closes the revolving door, and increases transparency and accountability.

“Seattle voters won big tonight. More than 32,000 voters put Honest Elections on the ballot, and hundreds of people who’d never helped with a political campaign before made small dollar contributions, knocked on thousands of doors and made thousands of phone calls to pass Honest Elections,” said Brianna Thomas, campaign manager for Honest Elections Seattle. “This is what democracy looks like, and we expect to see more grassroots campaigns like this one in Seattle.”

Working closely with these campaigns and groups in both states, Every Voice played a key role in the winning campaigns, including providing strategic guidance on communications, fundraising, and field work; serving as a technical advisor for voter contact programs, paid media, opinion research, and get-out-the-vote planning; and deploying 14 experienced campaign staffers in the days leading up to Election Day to manage get-out-the-vote canvass crews, knock on doors, and make phone calls to get out the vote.

Every Voice provided significant financial support and the campaign was augmented by several other national groups that donated money, mobilized members, deployed staff, and supported the campaign in countless other ways.

Every Voice is working with groups around the country to build momentum from these victories and explore ballot measures in as many as four to six locations in 2016.

“Everyday Americans deeply believe in the patriotic ideals of a government of, by, and for the people and of striving to create a more perfect nation. For Americans who have lost faith in their government because they believe their elected officials don’t listen to everyone, these victories are a beacon of hope,” said Donnelly.