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Fair Elections Now Act Reintroduced as Big Donors Play Outsized Role Ahead of 2016

June 10, 2015 | Laura Friedenbach

Washington, D.C. — As presidential candidates crisscross the country scooping up checks like it’s a giant monopoly board, Every Voice Center applauds Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il.) for reintroducing the Fair Elections Now Act to give everyday Americans a bigger voice in the political process.

“In contrast to the daily stories of presidential candidates parading themselves in front of billionaires, the Fair Elections Now Act will empower everyday people in congressional elections,” said William Roberts, Federal Legislative Director at Every Voice Center. 

“We applaud Senator Durbin for his continued leadership in fighting for a democracy that works for everyone,” said Nick Nyhart, President and CEO at Every Voice Center. 

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of a recent New York Times/CBS News poll which found a broad, bipartisan majority of Americans agree it’s time to reform the way political campaigns are funded.

The Fair Elections Now Act would allow Senate candidates to run competitive campaigns by relying on small donations from people back home—not big-money donors in Washington.

Here’s how the bill would work:

  • To encourage greater participation, everyday Americans could qualify for a $25 refundable My Voice tax credit for small donations to congressional campaigns.
  • Qualified candidates who prove their viability by raising a large number of small contributions from their home state would be eligible to receive a base grant to help fund their campaigns.
  • After qualifying, candidates who choose to participate must limit their contributions to $150 or less. Those donations would be matched, up to a limit, by six dollars for every dollar raised. For example, a $40 donation becomes $280.
  • Candidates who qualify for Fair Elections funding can receive additional funds to ensure they have the resources to compete against outside attacks.

17 of Sen. Durbin’s colleagues are joining him as original cosponsors, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

In the lead up to the bill’s introduction, over 41,000 citizen co-signers signed an Every Voice petition urging Congress to pass the Fair Elections Now Act.

Sen. Durbin’s bill is similar to the Government By the People Act introduced in the House by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) with 147 co-sponsors.

Over forty civil rights, labor, environmental, good government, and public interest groups have endorsed the Fair Elections Now Act.

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Every Voice Center is a national nonpartisan organization that fights to raise the voices of everyday people in our democracy through changing our campaign finance laws and through holding elected officials accountable.