Public financing—where candidates can use public money to run their campaigns instead of bowing to high-dollar donors—has existed in New Mexico for years. But these days, even smaller races cost more than what’s allotted to candidates. One possible solution was Democracy Dollars, coupons distributed to eligible voters, who could donate them to the publicly financed candidates of their choice. The proposal failed by a small percentage when the votes were tallied Tuesday night.
Organizers had been working for years to gather voter support for Democracy Dollars, all the way up through the end of Election Day this year.
Jennie Weston was getting ready to canvass for the last time this election cycle. "One of the things I love about Democracy Dollars is the fact that they going to have to go out and talk to people in the neighborhood to be able to get those Democracy Dollars," she said. "So it’s going to get them that personal touch with the community that they’re running for, so that’s what’s going to change the game."
At the watch party, results were tight for a while. But in the end, there were more No's than Yes’s. Just after it seemed to be a foregone conclusion, Sydney Tellez of Common Cause said perhaps voters are still confused by the public financing system overall. "Maybe it would have been more effective if we spent more time educating just about public financing," she said.
Or maybe, Tellez said, it’s just not time yet.