What Question A does:
Question A is an Amendment to the Howard County Charter. The Amendment enables the County Council to establish the Citizens’ Election Fund and small donor campaign finance system for County Council and County Executive races.
By voting for Question A in November to establish the Citizens’ Election Fund, Howard County joined communities across the country who are moving to a new way to fund elections.
Here’s how small donor empowerment programs work:
- Encourage participation: Provide matching funds for small contributions from constituents.
- Elevate the voices of everyday people: Match small contributions on a scale (between 6-to-1 and 1-to-1) with the smallest donations matched at the highest rate. For example, a $25 contribution matched 4-to-1 is worth $100 to the candidate.
- Expand opportunities to run for office: People qualify by building support in their community. This allows people from all backgrounds to run for office on the strength of their ideas, not access to money, and will help build a diverse and representative government.
- Keep big money out: Participating candidates cannot accept large contributions (over $150) or corporate contributions.
Montgomery County became the first Maryland County to establish a small donor incentive program in 2014. You can read about that program here. The cost to run for County Council in Montgomery County is much higher than in Howard County. You can see the recommended qualifying thresholds and matches for Howard County here.
By putting a small donor empowerment program into action in Howard County we can ensure everyone’s voice is heard in Howard County government and we can build momentum to pass state and federal reforms.