(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In Tuesday’s elections, voters in Maine and Seattle approved several ballot initiatives to reduce the amount of money in politics and empower ordinary voters over wealthy donors by wide margins. The victories for campaign finance reformers stands as a clear rejection to the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which opened the door for unlimited political spending in elections.
In Maine, 55% of voters approved Question 1 to strengthen the state’s Clean Elections Act by increasing public funding for candidates, after they have raised a qualifying number of small contributions. The initiative also requires outside groups to disclose their top funders on political advertisements.
Seattle voters passed the ‘Honest Elections’ initiative (Initiative 122) by a margin of 60%, tightening campaign finance limits and creating a first-in-the-nation program to provide registered voters up to $100 in “Democracy Vouchers” to support local candidates of their choice in exchange for city funds for their campaigns. The initiative would restrict donations from city contractors, regulated businesses, and lobbyists while also speeding up the disclosure of campaign donations.
Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling granted corporations and unions a First Amendment right to make political expenditures as protected speech, the amount of campaign spending in state and national elections has increased at an unprecedented rate. Move to Amend, the national campaign launched in the wake of Citizens United, praised the efforts of volunteers and organizers in Seattle and Maine in a public statement:
“These ballot initiatives represent the American people’s overwhelming rejection of the Supreme Court’s doctrine of money equals speech and the dangerous precedent they set in Citizens United,” said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, National Director of Move to Amend. “Voters in Seattle and Maine join a growing movement of people from all walks of life rejecting the overwhelming influence of corporations in politics, and demanding a genuine democracy that is accountable to We the People, not corporate interests.”
"An overwhelming majority of Americans share the sentiment that corporations should not have the same rights as people, and big money in politics should be removed," continued Sopoci-Belknap. "It is time for Congress to pass the We the People Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and send it to the states for ratification. The leadership of both parties need to realize their constituents are demanding an end to money as speech and corporate personhood through a Constitutional amendment. We will only get louder the longer they delay."
Move to Amend is a rapidly growing national grassroots coalition of nearly 400,000 individuals and thousands of organizations working to pass a constitutional amendment to make clear that Constitutional rights belong to human beings and political spending is not protected speech under the First Amendment. Their “We The People Amendment” was introduced in the US House of Representatives on April 29, 2015 as House Joint Resolution 48 by Representative Richard Nolan (D-MN).
Move to Amend representatives are available for interviews with the press. To arrange an interview, please contact press [at] movetoamend.org or call 707-269-0984.
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