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Activists call for public financing of election campaigns

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - A coalition of social activist groups is calling on New York to implement a system to provide some public financing of election campaigns in the state.

Citizen Action held a roundtable discussion today at its headquarters in Binghamton.

The groups are advocating for Fair Elections legislation that would use public funds to match small donor contributions in political campaigns.

Wanda Campbell of Citizen Action argues that the big industry donations to candidates undermine democracy and lead to higher cable rates and higher prescription drug costs and stymie health care reform.

Campbell says public matching dollars is an affordable way to level the playing field. "It would really cost less than $3 per year per voter. Compare this to the enormous costs of the current corporately-financed system. Now the money interests pull the strings and bills are passed that cost us a great deal more than the $2 to $3."

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo attended the discussion.

She says that with Democrats now in control of both houses of the legislature, other voting reforms are expected to be enacted quickly, including early voting, same day voter registration, online registration and closing the loophole that allows multiple LLC's controlled by the same entity to exceed contribution limits.

Lupardo says activists will need to keep the pressure on Albany to see public financing passed as well. "I would like nothing more than to have a system where we were just running on the merits, and that everyone had an equal opportunity to step in and make their case. I'm, of course, supportive of Fair Elections, always have been, always will be."

Lupardo is a co-sponsor of a Fair Elections bill in the Assembly.

Other participants at today's roundtable included the Broome-Tioga NAACP, the Sierra Club, Communications Workers of America and Indivisible Binghamton.


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