WASHINGTON - April 7 -
“Over the next week, Americans will be rushing to complete their federal income tax forms before the deadline on April 15. Anxious to get to the bottom line, millions of taxpayers skip over the first question, which asks whether you want to check the box to designate three dollars to the Presidential Election Fund.
“We ask you to pay attention to this question. Checking the box is important for our democracy. It funds the public financing system that allows Americans, not special interests, to own the presidency and have control during campaign season.
“In the most recent presidential election, Americans did not have that control. Three major candidates, including the two party’s nominees, chose not to participate in public funding. The cost of campaigning has skyrocketed in recent years, driven by the growing cost of buying television advertising, and the Fund simply isn’t large enough for candidates to choose to use it. The result? Tremendous special interest contributions to the candidates. Democracy is better served if every candidate is on the level playing field provided by the Presidential Election Fund.
“It is important that taxpayers know how the Fund works. Checking the box will not increase the taxes you pay or reduce your refund. It simply puts three dollars of the tax you’ve already paid into the Presidential Election Fund. The size of the Fund depends entirely on the number of people who choose to check the box.
“Both the candidates and voters benefit from the public financing system. Candidates receive money to help cover their campaign costs and voters are assured that fundraising rules and spending limits are followed. Some fine-tuning is needed to improve the presidential election system, but the check-off box remains the single best way to preserve the public interest.
“It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the Fund played a key role in rescuing the presidency from the dark days of Watergate, when many citizens believed that our political system was corrupt at its core. Now, we need to rescue the Fund from irrelevancy – and in doing so, bring our current political system back into the hands of the public. As you prepare your federal income tax forms, please do your part and check the box to protect democracy.”