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As New York state prepares to make $100 million available to help level the playing field for candidates running for state offices, time is running out for anybody to find out how the process might work and offer suggestions to help steer the plan toward the best result.
The state budget approved in April included a measure to provide matching public funds for small donations from citizens to candidates. The idea is to help counter the out-sized influence that a small number of wealthy donors can have in elections. To that end, a task force was created to come up with specific rules for how the money will be distributed. The group first met in August, and the deadline for ironing out the complexities involved is Dec. 1.
This week, the League of Women Voters, Reinvent Albany, the Brennan Center for Justice and other advocacy groups called on the task force to release a draft of what they have in mind and offer another chance for the public to offer feedback. We agree, and we urge our representatives in Albany to be vocal about pushing this issue to the forefront.
At the end of November, whatever rules the group comes up with will become law unless the Legislature meets before the end of the year to reject them. At this point, there is still time for the task force to be transparent about their work and put whatever plans they are considering up for public display. And an opportunity for feedback afterward can help make this system as good as it can be.
Campaign finance reform is a big step forward for New York — and it's been a long time coming — but if it is ultimately administered the least bit unfairly, it will have failed to live up to its potential to make our elections more fair.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Michelle Bowers, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.