Maine voters on Tuesday reaffirmed their desire to keep the influence of big money out of politics by passing the Clean Elections Initiative, a move that campaigners say serves as a "flare to a nation" desperate to "reclaim control of our democracy" in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
According to the Bangor Daily News, the Initiative passed 55 to 45 percent. The measure strengthens the state's Clean Election Act by bolstering financing for the state's Clean Election Fund, increasing penalties for violations of campaign finance disclosure rules, amending ad disclosure rules to require the disclosure of a campaign's top three funders, and allowing a candidate to apply for additional funds.
When Maine voters passed the Clean Election Act in 1996, it marked the first statewide system for the public financing of elections in the nation.
"As is their custom, Mainers are leading the way for the nation," said Miles Rapoport, president of the national pro-democracy group Common Cause in a statement celebrating Tuesday's vote. "Their strong vote today for accountable elections further underscores their determination to make our democracy work for everyone; it reflects the sentiments of millions of Americans who are determined to rein in the power of big money and refocus our politics on issues important to citizens."
Citizens in Seattle, Washington on Tuesday also passed a landmark public financing law and in Ohio voters overwhelmingly backed a constitutional amendment that put an end to partisan gerrymandering in the state.
"There’s a direct link between the big votes in Maine for accountable elections and Ohio for fair redistricting," Rapoport continued.
"Voters in Maine, like almost all Americans in both parties, are mad as hell about money in politics, so they stopped talking about the problem and did something about it," he added. "They sent a signal to Big Money that common sense rules governing our politics are possible, indeed essential if we’re to have truly robust political debates, and that the people will pass them through citizen action if legislatures fail to act."