On Friday, I noted that a number of campaign finance experts, including Yale’s Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres and Harvard’s Larry Lessig, support a voucher system in which every eligible voter has a $50 voucher or tax credit to donate to a campaign of his or her choice. In exchange, campaigns either agree to maintaining donor anonymity to avoid influence peddling (in Ackerman and Ayres’s system) or to only accepting donations of $100 or less (in Lessig’s).
The voucher idea has a lot of traction in intellectual circles, but has thus far proved less popular in legislatures than the “clean elections” model in which qualifying campaigns are given matching funds and lump sum grants.
That’s about to change. John Sarbanes, a Democratic congressman from Maryland, is planning on introducing the Grassroots Democracy Act, which would implement a voucher system for congressional elections. Here is a summary (PDF) his office provided to The Washington Post: