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Contact Us Home July 21, 2018
"Judicial races, once staid, low-budget affairs, have in the past decade turned into mudslinging, multimillion-dollar brawls that have shaken public confidence in justice."
USA Today editorial, March 3, 2009

Public Financing

"(Public Financing) makes all the difference. I've run in two elections, one with campaign finance reform and one without. I'll take 'with' any time, any day, any where."  

Judge Wanda Bryant, N.C. Court of Appeals

 In order to help combat the influence of special interest money on their judicial elections, two states have adopted permanent public financing programs. New Mexico took this step in 2007 by creating a voluntary public financing system for all appellate court candidates. Under the system’s guidelines, if appellate court candidates agree to limit their campaign spending to the amount of money provided through the program, and to not accept funds from other sources (expect for limited contributions from political parties), they will be eligible to receive public dollars for use in their campaigns.

New Mexico was joined by West Virginia – which holds partisan elections for all judges except at the municipal level (where selection systems vary by municipality) – in 2013, when the state converted its temporary public financing pilot program into a permanent program. Candidates for the Supreme Court of Appeals – the highest court in the state – qualify for grants to fund their campaigns if they are able to collect a fixed number of small dollar donations from people across the state.

Unfortunately, these two states are alone in their achievements. Wisconsin’s short-lived public financing system was ultimately defunded in 2011, and North Carolina’s system – long a model program for the rest of the country – met its demise through a larger voter ID bill that was signed into law in 2013.

Money & Elections Resources

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