New report on democracy vouchers: Empowering Los Angeles
Today, LA for Democracy Vouchers has published “Empowering Los Angeles: Increasing civic participation and donor diversity through democracy vouchers.” This report details money in the 2022 Los Angeles City Council and citywide elections, and how democracy vouchers would help create a more equitable system.
Echoing our 2020 findings, money in Los Angeles' city races comes mostly from sources that are not reflective of the city. Across three citywide races and eight city council races, there was at least $148 million in political spending — a record setting number. Even more alarming, $102 million — 69% of all money spent in 2022 — came from two self-funding candidates. Excluding wealthy self-funders, just over half of the money came from people who live in LA City — the rest came from special interests or from people who don’t live in Los Angeles City. Our findings also show that money comes disproportionately from the whitest and wealthiest neighborhoods. The average donation per person from majority white ZIP codes in the City of Los Angeles was nearly six times the average donation per person from majority people of color ZIP codes — extremely disproportionate for a city composed of 70% people of color.
We believe that the time is right to take another step forward with our city's campaign finance system and ensure that even more Angelenos have an opportunity to participate in our democracy. Democracy vouchers will expand the current system to bring more Angelenos to the table. By eliminating the need for disposable or discretionary monies, democracy vouchers will ensure the maximum number of people, allowed under the law, can make their voices heard. As Seattle has shown, candidates are incentivized to focus their campaign encouraging many potential small donors to use their vouchers, boosting the power of small donors and allowing candidates to run competitive campaigns without wealthy donors. What’s more, it will create more diversity among donors and candidates running for office. Los Angeles is ready for a new era in politics – one that empowers more everyday Angelenos to participate in their democracy and with representatives that genuinely represent our community.