Campaign Finance Reform

In 2016, local activists teamed up with state and national groups to try to pass campaign finance reforms in Miami-Dade County that included public financing of county elections. Unfortunately, after collecting 140,000+ petitions to get on the ballot, the County Commission killed it (longer story for another time).

During that process, I learned a lot about public financing of elections. Most programs are structured so that governments match contributions made by supporters. New York's program has a nine to one match, so if someone contributes $10 it would be matched by NYC with another $90. It has worked in NYC. Seattle took it one step further. In 2015, Seattle passed something called a "Democracy Voucher". They gave every registered voter $100 (four $25 vouchers) that they could use to contribute to candidates running for City Commission in Seattle. The theory was that a voucher program would give everyone a financial stake and provide an incentive for candidates to speak with every voter (not just super voters) and thus increase overall participation in local elections. It's an incredible experiment. The University of Washington studied how well it performed in the 2017 Seattle elections, and it seems to be working. Here are the results! Perhaps one day we can revisit campaign finance reform in Miami-Dade County.

side note: Miami-Dade County actually has a campaign public financing program for County Commission candidates. It's structured as a grant-based system. Commissioners Xavier Suarez and Barbara Jordan both used it. But it was reformed in 2004/06 and made ineffective. No one uses it anymore (another story for another time).

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