Albuquerque Votes on Pro-Democracy Measures

Increased support for public funding at stake

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Albuquerque Votes on Pro-Democracy Measures

Kai Seidenberg, '21

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In the upcoming local election, among council seat elections and budget proposals, one of the key questions on the ballot is an update to Albuquerque campaign finance laws. The election takes place on November 5, with absentee voting beginning on October 8, and early voting beginning on October 19. In essence, the proposition is a pro-democracy charter, aimed at wider opportunities for public funding for candidates running for office. It proposes an increase of seed money for candidates, sets higher contribution limits, and sets a minimum public financial distribution for candidates in low population districts. This general increase in public funding allows for larger public participation in local elections, which, in turn, promotes democratic ideals. With an increased ability to use tax money to fund campaigns, there is more opportunity for local participation in the political process.

This law would drastically increase campaign benefits in many areas. In seed money, which is the initial money to start a campaign, this new proposition includes a $250 contribution limit for an individual, changed from $100. It also increases the amount of personal funds a candidate can contribute to their campaign from $500 to $2,500. In addition, in mayoral and City Council campaigns, qualified candidates will receive  $1.75 in public funding per registered voter in the city or council district. For districts with a population of less than 40,000 people, candidates shall be given $40,000. For all candidates, upon confirmation of the election results, candidates who won will additionally be appropriated funds per registered voter in the city. Upon receiving the correct amount of signatures, you then are entitled to these financial benefits. The process of becoming a candidate is the same, but it creates greater opportunities for local citizens to run for offices

There is also another bill proposed, which has been coined the term “democracy dollars.” This bill would give bring campaign funding into public hands. With no tax increase, registered voters will automatically receive a $25 coupon, which they can give to any candidate. This will help participating candidates to run a campaign based on the strength of local support. This would also allow for more public insight because candidates would have to work more closely with their supporters in order to earn their coupon. All around, it would make it easier to finance a campaign. This pro-democracy bill allows for greater public participation in local elections and takes the burden off of requiring personal funds to run a campaign.

Polling is open from 7 am to 7 pm on Tuesday. See www.bernco.gov for polling locations.