The new strategy for limiting money’s role in elections

A democracy voucher in Seattle

The dream of eliminating the influence of large, private donors from the election equation is pretty much dead. Now campaign finance reformers are shifting their focus.

By Alan Greenblatt | Governing

The goals behind the public financing of elections have shifted. The old dream of completely eliminating big, private money from politics has been dashed by Citizens United and other court rulings.

“It’s probably not a realistic goal in any case,” says Michael Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute. “People who are interested in politics have many ways of influencing the political system.”

Now, the hope among some advocates of publicly financed campaigns is to impose limits on the size and scope of campaign treasuries while increasing citizen involvement. To do that, reformers are promoting the use of matching funds and so-called democracy vouchers, which allow citizens to steer government money directly to the candidates of their choice.

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