Minnesota has a 30-year-old way for citizens to use their tax dollars to donate to campaigns that few people know about. Or use
Even if you knew, you could just donate $50, get a receipt, fill out a form, mail it or submit it on a government website, and wait for two state agencies to confirm your eligibility. you can use it. After that they will receive the check. How many Minnesotans use this system? Single digit numbers.
supporters of house file 3A broad electoral bill put forward by legislative DFLers wants to increase knowledge and use by voters of what they call the Democratic Dollar. The idea is to send every voter in Minnesota two $25 coupons, following a program pioneered in Seattle and now adopted in Oakland. These voters can give them to candidates, who can redeem them in the state.
To receive the money, the candidate must have a refund program and State Campaign Grant Programthey must agree spending limit There are rules such as participating in campaigns and limiting personal contributions.
Rep. Emma Greenman of the Minneapolis DFLer, the main sponsor of HF 3, said she believes fewer “stuck” programs will help candidates engage more with voters, and voters will engage more with the election. rice field.
“If you want a campaign that is successful and can communicate with voters, and if you want a campaign that is funded by Minnesota voters and not by large donors or corporations, public funding is the way to do it. “We will use our collective resources to make the case that the infrastructure of democracy is worth it.”
The challenge, she said, is to find a system that “allows candidates to run with a small amount of support and win.” Too often campaigns are now driven by large, independent spending that takes control of the campaign away from candidates and pulls voters out of the process.
“How do you create incentives for candidates to go out and reach people?” she asked.
Minnesota already provides public funding for the campaign, so it doesn’t have to overcome tax hurdles for candidates. Both DFLers and Republicans utilize the Political Contributions Refund Program and another program that transfers state funds to candidates and political parties. — A person who agrees to a cap on contributions and spending. Although this program is not affected by HF 3, the bill would do away with his 1990 vintage Political Contributions Refund Program. Greenman uses the term “modernization” rather than abolition.
However, current programs are complex. A voter who has donated money to a candidate or political party who has signed up to limit spending can get a refund from the state worth her $50 per person or couple he’s $100. But in order to get the cashback, that voter will need to get her PCR receipt and application form from the campaign. A form with the donor’s social security number will be sent to the state revenue department.
This program requires verification by both the Revenue Service and the Campaign Finance Board before issuing refunds. It all depends on funding by Congress. In 2009 it was a victim of the then government. Tim Pawlenty’s “unallocated” or allocated money during a recession.
“The PCR program will consider donations received in the last six months of 2009, all calendar years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016, and the first six months of 2013, 2015 and 2017. It is not funded.” Campaign Finance Commission Report.
Between 2002 and 2018, Revenue refunded $22,274,373.
Jeff Sigurdson is executive director of the state campaign finance commission. The Board has an interest in the proposed change to administer, but has not taken a position. He acknowledged that the current refund program is clunky and the process can limit its use.
“When I go to Menards and they say, ‘Fill this out and send it to this address, we’ll get you back 11%,’ I thought, ‘Well, how many times have we actually done that?’ ‘, said Sigurdson. A democratic dollar is a simpler and more direct process. Also, voters don’t need to know about the program as they will receive an email with the coupon. And he doesn’t have to pay $50 up front for the campaign in hopes of eventually getting the money back.
HF3’s Democracy Dollar Clause sends coupons to each registered voter in March of even-numbered years. Voters who registered after that date can submit a voucher request. The measure would allow residents who are eligible to vote but not registered to request vouchers.
If all voters used coupons, the cost per election would reach nearly $200 million. But backers assume usage will start in his single digits for his first year and climb from there.
The campaign finance committee staff prepares a financial report estimating personnel costs and expenses. However, a similar provision in House File 9 for 2021 said the program would cost about $15 million in its first year, and was expected to grow to $30 million after 10 years as he gained prominence. . This is based on the assumption that only 8% of coupons issued will be redeemed, and by 2030 he will rise to 16%.
But the bill limits the amount available with a first-come, first-served process for deciding which coupon to redeem if the money runs out. The number of eligible but unregistered voters was assumed to be small.
This program is modeled after the one used in Seattle since 2017. Auckland voters have now approved a similar plan, but only other governments use such a system. Minnesota will be the first jurisdiction to approve the program by elected officials, not voters.
A study by University of Washington economist Alan Griffiths compared elections before and after using a voucher program. According to the news release Griffith found that the program increased total donations to the campaign by $31,000, or 53%, and increased the number of donors by 350%.
Wayne Burnett, executive director of the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission, said: democracy voucher program It was the centerpiece of a 2015 voter initiative called Honest Elections Seattle. Voters will receive four of her $25 coupons to candidates for mayor, city council, and city attorney. It’s paid for in property tax surcharges that raise $3 million a year.
Usage is growing. His first campaign using the voucher was in 2017, when the voucher was redeemed for his $1.14 million. It jumped to $2.45 million in 2019 and increased to $3.4 million in 2021. Candidates must pledge to limit their spending and participate in public debates and forums. Also, to participate, you must collect a certain number of small donations and collect a certain number of signatures.
“I don’t think I voted for it when it first came out,” Burnett admitted. It’s proven by actually opening up, there’s new candidates, new contributors. It’s really kind of turned politics upside down.”
The difference between Seattle’s program and what Greenman is proposing is that voters don’t have to have $25 or $50 to contribute.
“It’s a game changer,” he said. “You don’t have to have your own money to contribute.”
However, the side effect is increased spending on campaigns and more money spent through independent spending committees.
“It will increase spending across the board,” Burnett said. “I don’t think there’s any way to deny it. This tends to attract new funding to the process and push up the cost of elections. It’s not going to reduce election spending.”
And when large donors find themselves giving the same amount of money as smaller donors, more large donors donate to independent committees.
“This program is part of an increase in independent spending,” Burnett said.