CItizens' Election Fund System

2023 NACo Achievement Award Winner

Howard County, Md., MD

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About the Program

Category: Civic Education and Public Information (Best in Category)

Year: 2023

Following a 2016 vote by the voters of Howard County Maryland to approve a charter amendment to require the County Council to create a voluntary Citizens’ Election Fund system for candidates for County Executive or County Council, the County Council passed such legislation in 2017. This legislation required the Department of Finance (Department) to perform various functions in setting up the system in time for the election cycle that started on January 1, 2019, administering the system, and serving as the administrative arm of the Citizens’ Election Fund Commission (Commission). The intention of the system is to encourage greater voter participation in County elections, promote and encourage broader access to elected office in Howard County, and to prevent large donations from having undue influence in government. Additionally, the intention is to enable citizens of Howard County to run for office on the strength of their ideas, supported by small donations from ordinary people and matching funds from the Citizens’ Election Fund (CEF). While many jurisdictions throughout the Country have a public campaign finance program, Howard County is only the second county in the United States to have a public campaign finance program for a local election.

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