People For the American Way

Local and State Ballot Victories for Democracy

State and Local Update

While the outcome of the election this week is deeply troubling on many levels, there were a number of important ballot initiative victories that will ultimately help pave the way for a democracy that is truly of, by and for the people.

In Berkeley, CA voters passed Measure X1, which creates a voluntary system of publicly funded elections. Candidates with broad support who refuse money from special-interest PACs and accept only small contributions ($50 or less) will receive a limited amount of matching funds, allowing a more diverse pool of candidates the opportunity to run for office.

Also in California, Prop 59 passed statewide, which supports a federal constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and other related Supreme Court cases. In the state of Washington, Initiative 735—which also called for an amendment—passed successfully, joining 17 other states already on the record in support of such an amendment.

Voters also passed a local ballot initiative in Howard County, MD called Question A. Question A creates a system of public financing and builds on the successful campaign from the fall of 2014 to create a small donor matching program in Montgomery County, MD.

Finally in South Dakota, Initiative Measure-22 was passed successfully, which stops unlimited gifts from lobbyists to politicians, requires more transparency, and toughens ethics law enforcement to investigate lobbyists and politicians for breaking the rules.

While there is no doubt that the overall national election results are profoundly disturbing, these ballot victories on the local and state level offer a measure of hope for moving forward toward creating a democracy that works for everyone.