Hawaii to experiment with publicly funded elections

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July 3, 2010

HONOLULU, Hawaii: This fall's Hawaii County Council election is being used as a test run to experiment with publicly funded elections. Sixteen candidates for the Council applied to participate in the program. It will be financed by the $4.5 million Hawaii Election Campaign Fund, which consists of $3 donations from taxpayers who check off the box on their income taxes.

Candidates seeking public money must submit a petition of 200 signatures along with 200 donations of $5 each. They then receive funding based on the average amount spent by winning candidates in the district from the last 2 election years, minus 10%. No outside money can be accepted. If the trial run is considered successful, public financing of elections could spread throughout the state.[1]

On June 8 of this year the Supreme Court ruled against a similar program in Arizona. While the ruling does not apply to other states, it could be used as a foundation for legal challenges.[2]

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