LWVDC Testifies on DC Fair Elections Funding

Testimony before the Hon. Charles Allen

Council of the District of Columbia Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety

 

RE:  Oversight Hearing for the DC Board of Elections and the DC Office of Campaign Finance.

March 8, 2018

Good Afternoon Councilmember Allen and members of the Committee. My name is Alexandra Dickson, the Acting President of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia. I am here today to testify on behalf of the League in regards to critical issues of funding and implementation of the DC Fair Elections Act of 2017.

League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan citizens’ organization dedicated to engaging citizens and defending democracy. We have fought since 1920 to improve our government and to engage citizens in the decisions that have an impact on their lives.  Our deeply held convictions include protecting and enhancing voting rights for all Americans, assuring opportunities for citizen participation, and working for open, accountable, representative and responsive government at every level.  

The right to vote is a fundamental principle of our democracy. The League believes that reducing the influence of big money in our politics makes our elections fairer. Voters have the right to know who is raising money for which political candidates, how much money they are raising, and how that money is being spent. Our elections should be free from corruption and undue influence and should work so that everyday Americans can run for office, even if they aren't well connected to wealthy special interests. 

Every month, every week, every day, League members across in the city, and across the country, hear from citizens that they don’t matter. What we see on the ground is a lack of faith in our elected officials and our government and a belief that everyday citizen’s voices do not matter in comparison to the influence of big money from lobbyists, corporations, wealthy donors, and superPACs. We believe this is unacceptable.

The DC Fair Elections Act is, we believe, an investment in our democracy and an important tool to get everyday citizens of our city more engaged in our elections.  In June, we testified in front of this committee in support of the DC Fair Elections Act of 2017. We are very grateful for this Committee’s support of the Fair Elections Act and for the Council’s unanimous votes in favor of it.

However, passing the DC Fair Elections Act is not enough. The bill must be fully funded and staffed, with appropriate robust oversight and enforcement, and fully transparent in an accessible and reasonable way for access by the general public.  We hope that the Mayor will sign the Fair Elections Act into law and fully fund this essential program in her budget.  Regardless of mayoral support, we are here today to ask the Council and members of this Committee in particular to be strong champions for a fully funded program.

I am here today pledge the League’s continued support for this program throughout the budget and implementation process.   This is a critical opportunity to invest in a stronger democracy for the District of Columbia

Thank you.

Resources

League of Women Voters of the United States,  “Representative Government”, Impact on Issues 2016-2018http://forum.lwv.org/sites/default/files/impact_on_issues_2016-2018_representative_government.pdf

League of Women Voters of the United States, “Money In Politics: Action in the States,” Money In Politics Review 2014-2016. http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/money-politics-action-states

League of Women Voters of the United States, “Evidence of Spending's Impacts on Electoral and Legislative Outcomes,” Money In Politics Review 2014-2016. http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/evidence-spendings-impacts-electoral-and-legislative-outcomes