Maine campaign financing is model for other states

Although campaign finance reform has only recently become an important topic in national political elections, several state legislatures have already deliberated the issue. Four years ago, Maine voters decided in a statewide referendum to create an alternative funding system for state races. During the current state House and Senate elections, the Maine Clean Election Act system seems to be operating as expected. The result is an election process that stigmatizes candidates who choose not to participate in the funding system and dignifies those who do.
The system merely requires that candidates who choose to become “clean” refuse any campaign donations, in exchange for a standard amount of state campaign financing. Candidates for the state Senate can receive a maximum of $40,000 and earn the money only after raising 150 personal checks of at least $5 each from eligible voters in their districts. Candidates for state House can receive $22,000, although each only needs to raise 50 $5 personal checks. The amount supplied by the state isn’t too large that it will be burdensome to taxpayers, and the total cost to residents will be about $5 million.
This system has proven worthwhile in the primaries as candidates speak more with constituents about their concerns than campaign donors about their agendas. It has survived federal legal challenges of unconstitutionality because candidates participate only voluntarily. The system has also attracted more candidates than previous elections, as people aren’t discouraged by the financial capabilities of competitors.
Currently, it would be difficult to implement such a system in national elections. However, states should be willing to consider this new model, as it clearly improves the election process. After refinement, such a system could be seriously considered on a national level.