How does Clean Elections work?
Clean Election seeks to restore control of Arizona’s government to the people by allowing candidates to run for legislative or statewide office without taking money from lobbyists or special interests. In doing so, Clean Elections makes it easier for ordinary Arizonans, including women and people of color, to run for office and to win.
To qualify, candidates must collect a requisite number of $5 donations from registered voters within their district and refuse contributions from corporations and PACs. Once a candidate is approved by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, they receive an amount of funding that depends on the office they are running for.
How is Clean Elections Funded?
The Citizens Clean Elections Fund is comprised of the $5 contributions collected by participating candidates, a 10% surcharge on all civil penalties and criminal fines, and a voluntary $5 checkbox on Arizona income tax return forms. In this way, Clean Elections candidates are funded at no cost to taxpayers.
What is the history of Clean Elections in Arizona?
Following a decade of political scandal that saw one Arizona governor impeached and another who resigned after a felony fraud conviction, Arizona voters enacted the Citizens Clean Elections Act in 1998. In 2002, Janet Napolitano became the first Clean Elections candidate to win the state’s governorship, with Jan Brewer accomplishing the same feat in 2010.
However, the system has not gone unchallenged. In the 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a portion of the Act that gave additional funds to Clean Elections candidates when their opponents spent more than the Clean Elections funding amount. Without these “matching funds,” Clean Elections candidates now may be heavily outspent by privately-financed opponents.
What else does Clean Elections do for Arizona voters?
The Citizens Clean Elections Commission is statutorily mandated to spend 10% of its funding on voter education. This includes sending a pamphlet containing statements from candidates to every home with a registered voter, sponsoring candidate debates, and conducting statewide candidate information sessions. During the 2016 election season, the Commission expanded its voter outreach efforts via social media, allowing voters to find polling locations and candidate information over Facebook and Twitter.