Voucher system could help improve elections

 
Updated 6/28/2021 2:47 PM

Big money in politics has been an issue for centuries, with the Tillman Act (1907) that banned corporate contributions being one of the first laws to regulate campaign finance. Many laws have been introduced and many court cases have been heard (hello Citizens United, a SCOTUS decision in 2010 that further tilted political influence towards corporations and wealthy donors), but there is still a disproportionate impact of big money in politics.

The average American, or even a group of Americans, isn't able to make as big of a difference on their own compared to large wealthy entities when it comes to donating to political campaigns.

 

There have been solutions introduced to help fix this issue and one of the most promising ideas is a voucher system. Eligible residents are given vouchers of around $25 and information on candidates and then can choose who to give their voucher to. The campaign can then cash in the vouchers, which will direct funds to them. This system was used in Seattle's local elections and generally, it was very successful. It led to a more diverse pool of donors, and, if incorporated throughout the country, will lessen the power that PACs and super PACs have. In doing this, the voices of all voters will be further amplified.

The voucher system used in Seattle survived a court battle in 2017 after Judge Beth Andrus declared that the system was constitutional. It is entirely feasible to expand the program and by doing this, also make it easier for the average person to run for public office so that fewer of our Representatives are millionaires that are out of touch with working-class America. This is a centuries-old issue, but starting locally with election vouchers will help chip away at the power that corporations have. We will be closer to truly having a government for the people.

Isabel Aldort

Evanston

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