It’s time for Fair Elections for the Maryland General Assembly and Governorship
A small-donor matching program for State Delegate, State Senate and the Governor will:
- Encourage civic participation by providing limited matching funds for small donations to candidates.
- Keep big money out by requiring participating candidates to reject all large contributions and contributions from special interests like corporations.
- Elevate the voices of everyday people by matching small contributions on a scale with the smallest contributions matched at the highest rate.
- Make state government accountable to Marylanders alone by giving candidates the opportunity to run for office based on support from their community not wealthy donors and special interests/
- Expand opportunities to run for office by enabling people with strong ideas to run for office on the strength of their ideas and support from their constituents, not access to wealthy and corporate donors.
We urge our state legislators to introduce, support, and pass legislation for small donor campaign financing of state elections to help build a democracy that is accountable to the people of Maryland, not big money interests.
Don’t we already have public financing for the Governor’s race?
Maryland does have a form of public financing for the Governor’s race which Larry Hogan and Heather Mizeur both used for the 2014 election. We are proposing to strengthen and expand that program.
In April, Baltimore City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, along with 8 City Council Cosponsors, introduced Council Bill 18-0229, an amendment to the Baltimore City Charter to create the Fair Elections Fund and Blue Ribbon Commission.
If passed by the Baltimore City Council the Charter Amendment will need to be authorized by Baltimore voters on November’s ballot. The City Council will also have to pass companion legislation to hammer out the details of the program.
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Large campaign contributions, which few Baltimore County residents can afford to make, have too much influence over who can run for office, what issues make it onto the agenda, and who wins.
In recent years we have seen the voices of Baltimore County families drowned out by a flood of big money, and elected officials forced to be increasingly dependent on large and corporate donors.
Howard County Councilmembers Jon Weinstein and Jen Terrasa have begun the process of bringing a small donor incentive program to Howard County, but in order to set up the program we need to adjust the County Charter to allow the council to create the “Citizens’ Election Fund.” The Charter Amendment authorizes the creation of this new fund, ensuring that there is a functional program in place starting with the 2022 elections.
The Council voted to support the Charter Amendment and advance fair elections, and now it’s up to the voters to decide at the ballot in November.
ACTION: Vote YES on Election Day in November to create the new “Citizens’ Election Fund.”
In addition to strengthening our local democracy by limiting the impact of big money, a small donor incentive program will serve as example for the rest of the state and country. By putting small donor incentives into action in Howard County, the public will get to see the effectiveness of the program, building the support and track record we need to pass state and federal reforms.
Democracy only works when members of the public are engaged. There’s no doubt that our democracy is in a perilous state. But we can empower ordinary people in our elections, and reclaim our democracy for the people.
On September 30th, 2014 the Montgomery County Council adopted the Public Election Fund, a small-donor matching fund program for candidates for County Council and County Executive. The program allows candidates for County Council or Executive who rely on small-dollar donations to run a competitive race by qualifying for limited matching funds.
Participating candidates agree to turn down contributions greater than $150, and all contributions from special interests. Once they meet qualifying thresholds, these small donations are eligible for matching funds, with the smallest donations receiving the highest match. The program caps the total amount of matching funds a candidate can receive, but does not cap overall expenditures, allowing candidates to continue raising and spending small-dollar donations as needed.
For details on how the program works, please see the policy summary and other resources, below.
Official Public Election Fund Summary Guide from Maryland Board of Elections
Montgomery County Bill Summary
Public Election Fund FAQs Document
Full Bill Text
Candidates, Check Out This Candidate Briefing Book created by Every Voice
January, 2018 Report from Maryland PIRG and Common Cause Maryland: Fair Elections in Montgomery County
Prince George’s County
Support Fair Elections in Prince George’s County!
In recent years, many residents of Prince George’s County have felt that their voices are being increasingly drowned out by the flood of big money into our local elections.
Small donor empowerment programs put voters back in the driver’s seat of our elections by providing matching funds for small contributions to candidates who reject large and corporate contributions. This system allows candidates relying on small donors to compete with big money candidates by appealing to everyday constituents.