Thursday, October 06, 2005

Albuquerque Overwhelmingly Votes for Public Financing of Elections

Big news out of Albuquerque: as Susie Gran reports in the Albuquerque Tribune, the citizens voted 69-31% to institute a system of voluntary spending limits and public financing for candidates.

Just last year, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the mandatory spending limits for candidates that Albuquerque citizens put in place way back in 1974. With Tuesday's vote, Albuquerque citizens have sent a clear message to politicians, their bankrollers, and the court system which has fostered the hijacking of American elections by moneyed interests: we want reform.

We couldn't agree more. Public financing is one great way to reduce the influence of big money in politics. Candidates collect a certain threshold number of signatures and small donations to qualify for public funds. The system allows candidates who represent the viewpoints of regular folks to gain a voice in the process. Maine and Arizona currently provide full financing for qualifying candidates, while Nebraska has a slightly different version, also a success. The city council of Portland also recently voted for a public financing program, although big money is fighting to push the program back.

The Supreme Court has agreed to take a spending limits case out of Vermont. If the Supreme Court reconsiders the notoriously undemocratic and ill-reasoned case Buckley v. Valeo, and allows states and local governments to institute spending caps on political campaigns, the rest of us will have even more weapons in our arsenal to fight the corrupting influence of big money in politics.

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