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Your help is needed to pass Ballot Initiative 53, which will set up a system for publicly financed electoral campaigns in Colorado. Volunteers are now collecting the 100,000 signatures to put the initiative on the ballot .

If Ballot Initiative 53 passes, candidates for the state Legislature and statewide offices (with the exception of members of the U.S. Congress) will have the option of accepting public funds for their campaigns and in exchange will agree not to accept private money. This measure will significantly reduce the power of big money and corporations in our state.

Elected officials will be able to act on behalf of the common good and the welfare of all Colorado residents. They will be free to protect the environment, and will no longer be accountable to corporate polluters. And finally, the initiative will make it possible for many more people to consider running for office.

In states where public financing has been adopted, the majority of candidates opt into the system within a few years of implementation. In Maine, for example, eight years after adoption of publicly financed elections, 90 percent of those running for State Senate and the State House were publicly financed candidates.

And in Connecticut, more than 75 percent of all candidates in the first year (2008) of their program’s implementation ran as publicly financed candidates. Candidates like the system because they don’t have to sell their souls and their votes, and can represent the voters once in office.

Publicly funded campaigns will be paid for through a $5 to $10 additional tax per individual, per year, designated just for Colorado Citizen-Funded Campaigns.

This amount is miniscule compared to the amount Coloradans lose each year related to the tax breaks, legislation and favors rewarded by politicians to big donors and big business. Compared to these losses, publicly funded campaigns are truly a bargain for Colorado voters.

Please help collect signatures to meet the July 12 deadline. It’s easy and rewarding because the initiative will dramatically increase the power of the people and democracy in our state.

To help out go to cleancampaignscolorado.com or call 303-444-6981, ext. 2.

Carolyn Bninski is on the staff of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.

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