Winning Reform in the States: Blueprints for Democracy 2017 Update

We’re excited to announce that we’ve just updated our groundbreaking Blueprints for Democracy report with the latest money-in-politics and lobbying reforms from across the U.S.

During the 2016 elections voters around the country passed several different reforms to their state and local campaign finance systems. Many of the changes are unprecedented, they’re wholly new and innovative systems designed to meet the challenges of our modern election system.

In South Dakota, voters passed the most sweeping democracy reforms in history, establishing the South Dakota Ethics Commission, increasing transparency of campaign spending, writing new rules for lobbyists and creating a system “democracy vouchers.” But this voter-approved reform is already coming under attack, making it ever more important to inform state legislators, voters and allies on the tried-and-true reforms Blueprints describes in detail.

In Maine, voters shored up their existing citizen-funded election system and increased penalties for campaign finance violations.

In Berkeley, California, Howard County, Maryland and Portland, Oregon voters put in place new matching funds system to empower small donors and increase participation in elections. In Seattle, Washington also implemented a “democracy voucher” system to help get more people involved with elections.

In Missouri voters reinstated campaign contribution limits to tamp down on pay-to-play politics.

And many more states stepped up to the plate, showing once again that they truly are America’s laboratories of democracy. In our update to Blueprints, we break down all these newly passed reforms, including how they work and how they’ll be implemented.  

Our goal is to create a living guide to democracy reforms that states and localities across the country can follow. We know we can meet the challenge of money-in-politics reform because we have demonstrable proof that reform is working to great effect in cities and states, and that it can work to great effect in Washington.

We’re putting this report into the hands of change makers, state lawmakers and activists because we know that one of the greatest obstacles we face as reformers is cynicism. But Blueprints proves that the do-nothing status quo can, and has, been challenged and defeated.

However, there’s still more work to do. Right now lawmakers in South Dakota are using extraordinary measures to try to dismantle the reforms that voters passed only a few months ago. Our challenge is to defend the reforms we’ve won, and continue to fight for more.

We hope you enjoy the update, and that it sparks even more interest, conversation and innovation to kick off 2017.