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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Frequently Asked Questions

HOW DOES THIS DEMOCRACY DOLLARS PROGRAM DIFFER FROM OTHER PUBLIC FUNDING PROGRAMS?

The Democracy Dollars Program is unique in that the “public” funds go directly to voters.  Candidates have to engage their constituents to get those voters to assign the Democracy Dollars to them, to secure the public funding. Other public funding programs in the United States give funds directly to candidate campaigns.  

Most public funding programs (including the proposal outlined here; Clean Election programs such as the one in Arizona; or, matching fund programs such as in New York City) require candidates to show grass roots support by collecting a specified number of small-dollar donations and a number of signatures from voters, to become eligible to receive public funds. 


HOW DO THEY WORK? 

Democracy Dollars are simple. Each coupon is good for a $25 contribution to a candidate you choose. Just give the coupon to the candidate you support, or fill it in and mail it back to the City Clerk. No one else can use your coupon—it’s custom-made just for you!


HOW DO WE PAY FOR IT?

Currently there are ongoing discussions to determine if the Democracy Dollars program would be funded from the city's General Fund at a cost of $6 per resident of the City of San Diego (0.3% of the proposed annual budget) or if the Initiative could add a special property tax assessment of 3.6 cents/$1000 valuation 


WHO GETS TO USE THEM? 

This program will be as inclusive as possible—just like elections should be! Registered voters will get coupons in the mail automatically.  Citizens who register to vote after Democracy Dollars are distributed can get their certificates by applying to the City Clerk 


WHAT CANDIDATES ARE ELIGIBLE? 

Only the candidates who have qualified to use the public financing program can redeem Democracy Dollars.


HOW MUCH CAN CANDIDATES RAISE?

Based on the 2010 US Census, the amount of Democracy Dollars a candidate could redeem per an election cycle would be approximately:

Mayor  Primary $600,000  General $1,000,000 

City Attorney Primary $450,000 General $900,000 

City Council  Primary $115,000 General $190,000 


I LOST MY COUPON. NOW WHAT? 

There will be a process to retrieve your coupon, no problem.


WHAT’S TO PREVENT FRAUD OR ABUSE? 

Candidates using Democracy Dollars can only spend them on campaign activities as defined by City code. They report every dollar they raise and spend, so the City Clerk and the public can see where their money is going.


IF EACH REGISTERED VOTER (approximately 735,000 voters) GETS $100 IN DEMOCRACY DOLLARS THEN WOULDN'T THE PROGRAM COST $73 MILLIONS PER ELECTION? 

•Not every person who gets Democracy Dollars will assign them to candidates  •There is a limit to the total amount of Democracy Dollars any candidate can receive. So, it is the number of qualified candidates, not the number of voters, that determines the potential cost of the program  •If an unusually high number of candidates qualify, the Program Administrator could (1) set a lower cap for the total number of Democracy Dollars any candidate can redeem, (2) reduce the value of each certificate or (3) both, to keep the costs of the program within the allocated budget.  


DO ANY OTHER CITIES USE DEMOCRACY DOLLARS? 

Yes. The city of Seattle passed a ballot initiative called Honest Elections in 2014 and ran their first Democracy Dollar candidates in 2016. Other public financing programs are in place in New York City, Los Angeles, Maine, and Arizona.  

How Does Voters’ Voice Initiative Work?

 Participating candidates can use the logomark, a symbol signifying that this person is a participating candidate, on printed literature and television media. The logomark would be prominently displayed by the candidate’s name on the ballot, in the participating candidate's statement and Voter Information booklet published by the county and would precede such candidate's name on the ballot. 

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