Voters in Maine Approve Initiative to Fight Big Money in Elections


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, Maine voters passed a ballot initiative to strengthen the state’s Clean Elections Act, putting Maine at the forefront of a nationwide movement to empower regular voters and reduce the influence of special interests and mega-donors in elections. U.S. PIRG aided in the passage of Maine’s ballot initiative, mobilizing canvassers and organizers to increase voter turnout. The clean elections ballot initiative passed Tuesday night with strong support.

“Americans across the political spectrum want action to stop the flood of big money in our elections, and this Tuesday, voters took matters into their own hands,” said Dan Smith, Democracy Campaign Director for U.S. PIRG. “The clean elections measure that passed in Maine makes regular constituents a top priority in our elections, and that’s a major win for voters. Today’s victory sends a message to cities and states across the country: when voters stand up to big-money politics, they can make a powerful difference.”

Maine’s ballot initiative strengthens the state’s Clean Elections Act by offering candidates increased public funding after they raise a qualifying number of small contributions. The measure also strengthens campaign finance disclosure laws, requiring outside groups to list their top funders on political ads.

On Election Day, another small donor empowerment initiative was on the ballot in Seattle, where residents considered a first-in-the-nation program to provide registered voters with “democracy vouchers” that can be donated to local candidates. U.S. PIRG and WashPIRG staff supported get-out-the-vote campaigns in both Maine and Seattle to help drive voter turnout and pass clean election initiatives in both localities. Election results for Seattle’s ballot initiative have not yet been announced.

In addition to mobilizing support in Maine and Seattle, U.S. PIRG is advocating for similar small donor empowerment measures in states and localities across the country.

The passage of Maine’s clean election ballot initiative comes on the heels of another victory in Montgomery County, Maryland, which passed strong small donor empowerment measures in 2014. Montgomery County’s empowerment program resembles New York City’s small donor program, which has been in place for years.

As part of its effort to pass small donor empowerment programs at the local and national level, U.S. PIRG published a study this September exploring the impact of proposed small donor programs on the 2016 presidential race.

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U.S. PIRG, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.