Chicagoans Deserve a People-Powered Democracy

It’s time to transform our politics. We’re fighting for Fair Elections to elevate the voices of everyday Chicagoans, fight corruption, and empower candidates from all walks of life to run for office. We can have a government that represents all of us and supports what our communities need, not what big-money donors and special interests want. Join us and give power back to the people!

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How It Works

You make a small donation to your favorite candidate. The contribution is matched and multiplied by a public democracy fund to turn that small donation into a big donation 💰 You get to have a meaningful impact on your candidate’s campaign, and they’ll be accountable to you, not wealthy donors and special interests. The result? A democracy that represents everyday Chicagoans and works for everyday Chicagoans.

More than thirty cities and states have some form of public campaign financing, and because of their success, programs like this are being adopted every year. Chicago is now the largest city without a Fair Elections program, with New York City, Los Angeles, and many other cities having led the way for decades. It’s time to bring people-powered democracy to Chicago!

If we want change, we must change who gets heard.

For too long Chicago’s politics have been dominated by the wealthy and well-connected. And while many elected officials are dedicated public servants, high-profile corruption scandals undermine the public’s trust in city government.

Chicagoans deserve a government where our representatives represent all of us.  Where candidates and elected officials can focus on what our communities need, not just on what big-money donors and special interests want.

By bringing Fair Elections to Chicago, we’ll give power back to the people by removing barriers to who can run for office, increasing the power of small donors, and limiting the influence of big-money donors and outside actors in our elections.

Many major US cities, like New York and Los Angeles, have taken action to address the issue of big money dominating elections. In fact, Chicago is the largest US city without a public financing program.

But Chicago wouldn’t be the first to bring a public campaign financing program to Illinois. Earlier this year, Evanston became the first city in Illinois to adopt a small dollar matching program. It’s time to bring accountability to Chicago by creating a system of government that works for all of us—not just the wealthy few.

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Get Involved

Contact your alderperson and let them know you support a Fair Elections program that will multiply small donations, bring political power back to the people, and reduce corruption and the harmful impact of big money on our democracy.

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Sample Email Script

Sample email/call script:

Subject: Support for Chicago Fair Elections Ordinance

Dear Alderperson [Alderperson’s Last Name],

My name is [Your Name], and I’m a resident of [Your Neighborhood/Ward] in Chicago. I am writing to express my strong support for the Chicago Fair Elections ordinance introduced by Ald. Matt Martin. 

Chicagoans deserve a government that represents all of us. A Fair Elections program would elevate the voices of everyday Chicagoans, empower people from all walks of life to run for office, reduce corruption, and allow elected officials to spend more time talking to their constituents instead of endlessly fundraising from a few big donors  

Many major US cities, like New York and Los Angeles, have used similar programs to address the issue of big money dominating elections. In fact, Chicago is the largest US city without a public campaign financing program. It’s time to join our peer cities and get this done. 

As someone who values fairness, transparency, and inclusivity in our political system, I urge you to support this ordinance in City Council. Your leadership is vital to bringing people-powered democracy to Chicago. 

Thank you for your time! I look forward to seeing progress on this important issue soon. 

 

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

FAQs

Why do we need Fair Elections?

Not everyone has an equal voice in our government. Only 3% of campaign funds in Illinois elections come from “small” donations of $150 or less, while megadonors and corporate special interests flood campaigns with contributions in the tens of thousands or even millions. The result is a government that isn’t representative of voters – or responsive enough to their needs.

Why now?

Chicagoans are ready to join the nationwide Fair Elections movement. In 2015, nearly 80% of Chicago voters approved an advisory referendum that would establish a Fair Elections program, but the City Council failed to act. Chicago is now the biggest city without a public campaign financing system. It’s time to join New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, and other cities that are using public democracy funds to create more ethical and equitable governments that are accountable to the people they serve.

How do Fair Elections impact women and people of color?

Fair Election programs increase candidate and donor diversity. Public financing programs have been shown to increase the number of women, people of color, and people from different backgrounds in elected office. They also increase the diversity of people who donate to campaigns and participate in the political process. The impact is particularly pronounced in historically disenfranchised communities; New York City’s program, for example, caused donor participation in minority communities to increase by as much as twenty-four times.

Can Fair Elections programs address corruption?

Fair Election Funds reduce pay to play politics. When candidates rely on everyday constituents to fund their campaigns instead of corporate special interests and machine insiders, the whole system changes. The potential for corruption and “pay to play” politics is reduced and representatives have more incentive to enact policies that benefit everyone, not just a select few. Officials become accountable to the constituents who need them the most, not just those who pay them the most.

How does it work?

In a Chicago Fair Elections program, a small donation would be turned into a large one with matching public funds. For example, a 9:1 match would turn a $10 contribution into a $100 contribution. More people would have a meaningful impact on their favorite candidate’s chances of winning, and a more powerful say in their government.  

How can I learn more?

Email us at contact@fairelectionschicago.org with questions!

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