The People Power Newsletter - September 2015


With Hillary Clinton coming out strong for public financing, the Democratic field has largely reached a consensus that money in politics is a critical issue and that public financing with matching funds is an important tool to address it.  Republican voters agree, with 62% of Republicans favoring a system of matching funds, a clear opportunity for a candidate brave enough to seize it.  Here’s a great video highlighting key positions from many of the major candidates in both parties. 

Study Reinforces that Mandatory Voting would Create More Healthy Democracy

A new Brookings Institute study looks at Australia, which implemented mandatory voting in 1924, and finds that a universal voting requirement would increase participation by groups less likely to vote, increase electoral competition and reduce hyperpolarization.  The authors acknowledge this is unlikely, but hope it will spur attempts to ease voting difficulties and restrictions.

Brennan Center Calls for Online, Same-Day Registration, Automatic When Possible

The Brennan Center has renewed its call to make voter registration available online, allow same day registration or updates and automatically register voters when they interact with government agencies such as the DMV. 

Matching Funds would Shake Up 2016 Fundraising towards Grassroots Campaigns

A U.S. PIRG study finds that a six-to-one matching fund system, as proposed in the Government by the People Act (H.R. 20) and the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 1538), would enable Sanders to nearly catch Clinton in fundraising and send Carson and Cruz well past Bush as all three candidates have been far more reliant on small donors.

Public Financing Reduced Judicial Corruption in NC, until Major Donor Killed It

A recent paper shows that North Carolina’s program providing for public financing of judicial campaigns resulted in judges that were 60% less likely to vote in favor of attorneys who donated to their campaigns and more moderate in their decisions.  Unfortunately, the program was killed in 2013 after major donor Art Pope financed a number of candidates into office and personally insisted that the program be killed.

Council Has Epic Gerrymandering Fail in Attempt to Help Businesses Raise Sales Tax

In yet another example of how lawmakers can use gerrymandering to limit our right to vote, the city council of Columbia, MO, at the behest of local businesses, attempted to create a carefully drawn Community Improvement District designed to prevent nearby residents from voting on a potential sales tax.  Under state law, CIDs can impose taxes or assessments if approved by the residents, but if the area is entirely businesses and no one lives there, the property owners get to decide.  However, in designing the district, the property owners missed a single resident who opposed the sales tax and ultimately decided to postpone the election.

 Rep. Patrick Murphy Responds to Dark Money Group on Why We Need to Overturn Citizens United

Facing criticism from Americans for Prosperity, Murphy shot back a thoughtful piece arguing that Citizens United ensures that wealthy individuals matter more than teachers, firefighters and other everyday Americans who cannot afford to contribute to campaigns.

CA Continues to Lead on Fighting Dark Money Groups

The California Fair Political Practices Commission voted to close a possible loophole in its disclosure laws, by clarifying that nonprofits spending money in California elections through federal PACs are required to disclose their donors, just as it would if it was spending through a state PAC.   This essentially outlaws dark money and forces any group spending in California to reveal its federal network.  Doubtless groups will try to find ways around it, but it is encouraging to see an agency proactively doing its job!