$50 and your vote

posted on February 05, 2007 - tagged as: civics

Slate has a compelling piece on campaign finance reform. They discuss the Ackerman-Ayres proposal, which would allocate $50 to registered voters. The voters could spend the money on candidates of their choosing. Even more interesting, is that donations from private individuals to campaigns would still be allowed, but the contributions would be funneled through the FEC to disguise their origins.

It certainly is an interesting idea. However, there are many glitches, though most are technical. How, for instance, would third party candidates become registered to receive money? It is already quite difficult to get third parties on ballots, and this system could potentially make third parties even less relevant. If implemented properly, the system could do the exact opposite, but that is one big if. Also, the ‘secret algorithms’ used by the FEC to disguise the origins of money could be a huge point of contention. We already have enough voter confidence problems with the electronic black boxes tallying our votes, how much confidence would we have in black box donations?

No doubt this plan would wildly change politics, and something does indeed need to change. We’re in desperate need of well thought out policy. Reactionary politics gets us no where. Yet, as the article points out the dramatic changes are exactly the reason why this plan would never come to fruition; incumbents have too much to lose.

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