Where did Honest Elections Seattle I-122 come from? Who’s behind it? Why vouchers? And what’s it all about? Sightline executive director Alan Durning recently spoke with KEXP Mind Over Matters host Diane Horn to address these questions and others. The full 25 minutes are worth a listen, and you can listen in here, but some highlights are below.
On how Honest Elections Seattle limits the power of Big Money to influence our elected officials and their policy decisions (5:30):
We’ve banned contributions from entities that spend a lot of money lobbying City Hall, and we’ve banned contributions from entities that make big money getting contracts from City Hall. A candidate shouldn’t be collecting money from businesses whose whole economic future depends on the regulations that those city councilors are making at that time.
The bottom line of “democracy vouchers” (7:30):
It will turn everyone from a dishwasher to a bank president into a $100 donor from the perspective of the candidate. It gives everyone a voice.
On why this is the best solution for democracy reform, even under decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon (8:20):
In America, public opinion polls tell us that voters would rather ban Big Money entirely and regulate election spending in all kinds of ways that the Supreme Court won’t let us do. The Supreme Court says, “Money is speech.” …[The Court also] said, however, that it’s perfectly fine to dilute Big Money with public funds. That’s why we have to invest a small amount of taxpayer dollars… in a public funding system like this.
On how vouchers will foster greater engagement between candidates and everyday voters (10:45):
With vouchers, it’s so much easier to invest in a candidate. And candidates will have such a strong incentive to go door-to-door and to be organizing house parties and going to community forums and organizing events and going to farmers’ markets and street festivals and everything else because everyone they meet will be worth $100 in contribution to their campaign. The idea of it is to eliminate the time candidates spend dialing for dollars from rich people and to tell candidates, through the system, “Just go talk to voters. Hear what they have to say. Tell them your thoughts. Tell them your plans and visions. And if they like you, they have $100 for you.” It changes the game, completely.