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Political campaign reform is slow as molasses!
Vote Low Cost
can speed up party reform and other political reforms.
Step 1: With just 10% of the vote, we vote for the candidate who spends less.

party reform

Campaign reforms of Vote Low Cost could
1
) quickly lower special interest influence, &
2) rapidly raise voter involvem
ent.

Voters are fed up with how special interest money controls politicians. But the usual approaches to campaign reform work far too slowly.

Vote Low Cost adds a new twist: In political campaigns, between the Democratic and Republican candidates, vote for whomever spends less! If just 10% of voters vote in this way, in close races the candidate who spends less wins.
Republican and Democratic candidates in those races will then compete with each other to spend less. When political campaign spending drops, so does special interest influence.

Success breeds more success. The Vote Low Cost block of swing voters becomes a solid foundation to:
- support all types of political reform,
- independent of political parties.

Even if you would only vote for candidates of your favorite party, you can still support Vote Low Cost campaign reforms. Read our FAQ to understand how. And check out our What You Can Do Page.

Benefits of Vote Low Cost

  • Vote Low Cost's political campaign reform concept is easy for voters to grasp.
  • Voters like quick results. When candidates who spend less win, special interest influence immediately drops. That's fast!
  • Voters don't trust candidates' promises. Vote Low Cost does not depend on candidate promises to support political campaign reforms or party reforms when they get in office.
  • Vote Low Cost only needs 10% of the vote to determine the outcome of close races, not the 50% needed to elect a party-reform candidate. It's so much easier to get 10% of the vote than 50%!
  • Presidential races are always close.
  • The winners of close races determine which party, Democrat or Republican, will be the majority party in the House and the Senate.
  • Close races are where most political campaign money is spent. Vote Low Cost will force those critical races to spend less and dramatically cut the need for special interest money.
  • Opponents of campaign reform can file lawsuits and pass laws to undermine campaign reforms, but they can't stop Vote Low Cost supporters from voting as we want.
  • Vote Low Cost is firmly non-partisan (it doesn't favor either party). Many independent, moderate, young, and disillusioned voters and non-voters want a non-partisan approach to political campaign reform.
  • Vote Low Cost creates a strong non-partisan swing vote as a foundation for other political reforms.

More Political Campaign Reform Ideas in our FAQ!

Special Interest Campaign Financing and Campaign Corruption: The Vote Low Cost Answer

What is Special Interest Campaign Corruption?

Special interests can be any group or individual that give campaign finances or gifts to politicians in exchange for political favors. The favors take the form of legislation or votes: E.g. "Vote against that legislation that restricts what we can do." "Sponsor this legislation to support our cause." "Vote for this tax break for our group." Special interests include corporations, unions, clubs, associations, wealthy individuals, religious groups, tribes, foreign companies, and even foreign governments.

Special interest political corruption occurs when politicians do what is best for special interests instead of what is best for our country.

This article is continued on the Organization Page.








The Three Usual Approaches to
Political Campaign Reform Work Much Too Slowly, Poorly, or Not At All. Vote Low Cost Can Change That.

Approach #1: Legislating Campaign Reform Is Slower Than Molasses.

The most common approach to political campaign reform is to enact laws that will restrain the actions of politicians and special interests. Many political reform laws have been enacted to limit campaign spending, contributions, and gifts, set term limits, apply budget controls, and for other purposes.

But most political campaign reform legislation has had limited success for a number of reasons: First, it is difficult to get voter support for complex campaign reform legislation, especially when citizens hear conflicting claims and criticisms about it.

Second, politicians who oppose political campaign reform often win lawsuits limiting new campaign reform laws.

Political campaign reform laws have their powers limited by lawsuits, or are replaced by newer, watered-down laws.
Voters are confused by conflict over campaign reform laws, and discouraged by the slow pace of campaign reform.

Third, opponents of political campaign reform frequently write new, weaker laws that supercede and replace good campaign reform laws. The history of American campaign reform overflows with stories of such overriding legislation and lawsuits.

Fourth, due to the above three factors, campaign reform has been painfully slow. For example, in January, 2006, after decades of effort, only 3 states-- Maine, Arizona, and Connecticut-- had strong programs for the public funding of political campaigns.

Slow progress discourages voters, and the average voter loses interest in the legislative approach to campaign reform.

Vote Low Cost could dramatically speed up legislative campaign reform by creating a large, active, non-partisan swing vote committed to campaign reform. Opponents of campaign reform can file lawsuits and pass laws, but they can't stop Vote Low Cost supporters from voting the way we want. A strong swing vote could also push through constitutional amendments for campaign reform that resist tampering by lawsuits and by watered-down laws.

Approach #2: Electing Republicans and Democrats Who Favor Party Reform Makes Little Difference.

Attempts to elect reform-minded candidates from the two major parties have had little success. Neither party is truly interested in party reform. The incumbents have become dependent on speical interest money to win races.

In the past, many members of both parties have filed lawsuits opposing party reform and have voted for new, watered-down laws to replace good party reform laws.

Politicians benefit from the status quo, so they resist change and party reform.
Reform-minded lawmakers are outnumbered and must "play the game" to win re-election.

When corruption scandals erupt and the public is watching closely, elected officials may make a show of supporting party reforms, but as scandals become old news the same politicians will sabotage those reforms.

Politicians of both parties benefit in many ways from the status quo. For example, incumbents get much more special linterest money than those who don't hold office. So it benefits incumbents to let special interets finance political campaigns.

The longer lawmakers remain in office, the more they profit. So more senior, influential politicians naturally resist party reforms and have the power to sabotage them.

Lawmakers supporting party reform are continually outnumbered by those who resist party reform, and are co-opted by the status quo and by the need to "play the game" to win re-election, so that even Senator John McCain, the strongest supporter of reform, accepts special interest money.

Politicians cannot reform a broken system that benefits them. The Vote Low Cost swing vote and similar programs must force the politicians to reform the system.

Approach #3: Electing Small-Party Candidates and Independents Who Support Political Campaign Reform Hasn't Worked At All.

Independent and third-party legislators are few and far between. Right now there is one Independent in the Senate and one in the House; that's all!

Our electoral system favors the two major parties. Voters like to vote for winners, and Republicans and Democrats are the only consistent winners. Over 95% of voters are used to voting for the two major parties. It takes a tremendous effort or unusual circumstances to get 50% of voters to change their normal voting patterns and elect an independent.

Voters like voting for winners, which means the 2 major parties.
Only 2 Independents hold national office.
Vote Low Cost can be a winner with just 10% of the vote. Getting 10% of the vote is so much easier than getting the 50% needed to elect an Independent who supports political campaign reform.

Independents are also at a disadvantage because they only raise a fraction of the speical interest money that the major parties receive.

Even if we elect a few Independents who support campaign reform, they would still be overwhelmed by the large numbers of Republicans and Democrats protecting the status quo.

Vote Low Cost goals are far easier to achieve because Vote Low Cost only needs 10% of the vote to determine who's elected in close races.

Vote Low Cost will also help Independents by equalizing the political campaign funds that all candidates raise.





Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Vote Low Cost's Three Steps to Reform.

FAQ about Step 1: Voting Low Cost

Why does Vote Low Cost target campaign spending and special interests instead of other reform issues?

Why must VLC remain non-party-affiliated and middle-of-the-road?

Suppose a candidate decides, "If I spend a lot more money, I can win this campaign, even if VLC supports my opponent." What will VLC do then?

If an Independent or third-party candidate spends less than the Democratic and Republican candidates, will VLC support them?

Why would people vote low cost rather than for the candidate whose values they most agree with?

How will VLC monitor what candidates spend?

What groups will support VLC?

What are standard spending limits?

Does VLC expect government campaign funding to replace special interest funds?

Candidates spend most of their funds in the last few weeks and days of the campaign. How can VLC figure out who spent less and who to support at the last minute?

Would VLC be a political party?

What can VLC do with 20% of the vote?

Will VLC ever stay out of a campaign?

I believe in VLC principles and goals, and would like to support VLC efforts. But I won't vote for the "other party" candidate, even if they spend less than "my party's" candidate. What are my options?

FAQ about Steps 2 & 3: Constitutional Amendments

In Step 2, why does VLC target redistricting instead of other reform issues?

Why do we need constitutional amendments instead of regular laws?

What issues will these constitutional amendments address?

How can we be certain that these amendments will be politically middle-of-the-road, without a liberal or conservative bias?

What will be the approach to passing constitutional amendments?

Answers:

FAQ about Step 1: Voting Low Cost
Why does Vote Low Cost target campaign spending and special interests instead of other reform issues?

VLC first targets campaign spending because we can have a quick, significant impact with relatively little effort, supported by just 10% to 20% of voters. Campaign spending may not be more important than other reform issues, but it's the best place to start. People like to win, and voting low cost is a winner. Once we succeed with voting low cost (Step 1), we would build on that success to address other important reform issues in Steps 2 and 3.

Why must VLC remain non-party-affiliated and middle-of-the-road?

Firstly, politicians must be pressured into supporting reform. Our non-partisan approach (we don't favor one party over any other party) makes Republicans and Democrats compete against each other for our vote. Without such competition, they will not back VLC reform efforts, and VLC has no power.

Secondly, the non-partisan, middle-of-the-road VLC approach will encourage reform-minded, moderate Democrats, Republicans, Independents, young voters, and everybody else in the middle to support our goals. Broad popular support is especially vital to passing constitutional amendments in Steps 2 and 3.

Thirdly, a true non-partisan approach gives the VLC credibility, as so many voters are disillusioned with party politics and mistrustful of partisan efforts. So it vitally important that VLC remain non-partisan.

Suppose a candidate decides, "If I spend a lot more money, I can win this campaign, even if VLC supports my opponent." What will VLC do then?

We simply support his opponent and watch what happens. Suppose Candidate Andrews tries to outspend Candidate Brown in this way. If Brown promises to keep his spending 20% below Andrews' spending, VLC agrees to back Brown.

If Andrews spends $100,000, Brown can spend $80,000; if Andrews spends $200,000, Brown can spend $160,000. The more Andrews spends, the more Brown can spend. In a close race Brown's party, whether Republican or Democrat, will back Brown with the money he needs to keep close to Andrews. Andrews will lose because he can't outspend Brown by enough to overcome VLC's support of Brown.

In such situations, VLC doesn't care if Brown takes special-interest money in order to keep up with Andrews. VLC first wants to teach candidates like Andrews a lesson: Don't try to outspend your opponent in a close race! Once they've learned that lesson, they will give up on raising money from special interests.

If an Independent or third-party candidate spends less than the Democratic and Republican candidates, will VLC support them?

Most third-party candidates get 2% or less of the vote. Adding the 10% VLC vote increases that to a mere 12% of the vote. Democrats or Republicans will still win those races, and they won't care about our puny 12%. VLC has gained nothing! But if an independent or third-party candidate mounts a competitive campaign and could win with VLC backing, they can receive VLC support by spending less than the major-party candidates.

VLC should only back Independents with a real chance of winning.
Otherwise, supporting them is a waste of our votes.
VLC success will help Independents compete with the two major parties by decreasing major-party campaign spending.

Major-party candidates spend much, much more on campaigns than Independent and third-party candidates. When VLC efforts lead to decreased campaign spending by the major parties, other candidates will have a better chance of winning races.

Why would people vote low cost rather than for the candidate whose values they most agree with?

People will vote low cost because:

  1. They care more about political reform than about other issues. They are disillusioned, believing politicians are corrupted by special interest money and not looking out for voters' interests.
  2. They believe neither Republican nor Democratic politicians are willing to fix the system, so they are open to a non-party approach.
  3. They trust that with true political reform, politicians will do a better job of looking after the interests of voters and of the USA. In the long run, VLC reforms will help their other cherished goals to be realized.
How will VLC monitor what candidates spend?

Through watchdog groups and news outfits, the media continually informs us of how much this or that candidate is spending. We don't have to reinvent the wheel; we can use their information as long as it is accurate and unbiased.

What groups will support VLC?

Just about anybody could support VLC, even those who will only vote for their favorite party. We understand that many who agree with VLC values and goals will not be comfortable voting against their chosen party, but they can still help spread the word about VLC and recruit others.

Those who will not vote against their favorite party, but who agree with VLC values and goals, can still support VLC and spread the word about us.

For supporters who will vote low cost, VLC will draw from:

  1. Middle-of-the-road voters not affiliated with either party.
  2. Moderate Republicans and Democrats disillusioned with their party's failure to enact reform, for whom reform is more important than other conservative or liberal concerns.
  3. Non-voting citizens who would vote if they had a project they believed in, a place where their vote really counted, and a way to influence politics without joining a party.
What are standard spending limits?

Standard spending limits are campaign spending limitations. VLC will not vote against candidates who keep their spending within these standard limits. This allows candidates to plan their spending without continually worrying about whether they are spending more than their opponents. These standard limits, yet to be established, will be low enough so that candidates don't have to rely on special-interest money to raise campaign funds.

By staying within standard spending limits, candidates can plan their campaign spending without worrying about VLC opposition.
These limits will be low enough to cut the need for special-interest money.
If both candidates observe the limits, VLC supporters can vote for whomever they want.
Independents will compete better because they can raise the same funds.

There are more benefits to standard spending limits. First, if both major-party candidates keep their spending below standard limits, VLC supporters win twice: They have cut special-interest influence, and they get to vote for whichever candidate they prefer.

Second, these limits will help Independent candidates to win because they can now raise the same amount of funds as the major-party candidates. Historically, special interests give little money to Independents.

Third, much special-interest funding is channeled to candidates through state and national party organizations. A candidate who observes standard spending limits and becomes independent of special-interest money also becomes less dependent on his or her party. More independent lawmakers means less partisan politics, more bipartisan cooperation, and a more varied and interesting political environment.

Does VLC expect government campaign funding to replace special interest funds?
No. At this time VLC is neither for nor against government funding of campaigns. Our goal is to have politicians run low-cost campaigns without any special interest support, and we believe that VLC will motivate politicians to creatively develop and utilize low-cost means of conveying their message to the public. At this time, there is no evidence that low-cost campaigns are detrimental to the public interest, though they might be hard on candidates's egos.

The main goal of government campaign funding is to decrease politicians' dependence upon special interest money. But to keep up with ever-increasing levels of special-interest money, these government programs must keep offering more to candidates. The VLC approach accomplishes the same goal without relying on government funding at all.
Candidates spend most of their funds in the last few weeks and days of the campaign. How can VLC figure out who spent less and who to support at the last minute?

Candidates spend the majority of their funds in a flurry of expensive, last-minute advertisements. Candidate Adams might spend much less than Candidate Brown for months, then suddenly outspend Brown in the last few weeks of the campaign. VLC would prefer having plenty of time, weeks or months, to get out the word and educate our supporters: "Vote for this and that candidate."

One solution: Get public promises from candidates and their parties that they will observe standard spending limits or spend less than their opponents in exchange for VLC support (or VLC neutrality should both candidates observe the spending limits). Candidates are hungry to win. If candidates will stoop low enough to accept special interest money, they will surely be willing to limit campaign spending in exchange for VLC support, if we have the votes they need.

Ideally VLC would have weeks or months to get out the word: "Support this candidate."
Get public promises from candidates to spend less than their opponents in exchange for VLC support.


Would VLC be a political party?

No. Politicians can run the country, but they can't fix that which goes against their self-interests, such as limiting campaign spending or drawing competitive legislative districts. These are the areas of political reform, and VLC's one purpose is to bring about such reform. We don't need to get involved in running the country.

In addition, there are two big disadvantages to becoming a party. First, if VLC were a party, its own legislators could be compromised by self-interest, just as Republican and Democratic legislators are.

Second, a VLC party would have to compete with Republicans and Democrats to get 50% of the vote, and that would be very tough to do! Ninety-five percent of voters are used to voting Democrat or Republican. It would take a tremendous effort to get that many people to change their normal voting patterns.

Politicians can run the country, but they won't support reform unless they are forced to.
Our goal is reform, not running the country.
Let's keep these 2 separate!
We're not politicians. We simply pressure politicians into supporting reforming.

Because VLC is not a party, with just 10% of the vote we can make Republicans and Democrats compete for our support, reduce their special-interest spending, and enact reforms. And getting 10% or even 20% of the vote is so much easier than getting 50% of the vote!

What can VLC do with 20% of the vote?

Since 25-35% of voters vote for independent/third-party candidates or are swing voters (they might vote for either major party), VLC could readily draw 20% of the votes from among them. With 20%, VLC could pressure almost any candidate in any race into decreasing campaign spending, even in districts where candidates typically win with 70% to 90% of the vote!

In such districts one party have usually given up on running serious campaigns because "the other party always wins." For example, let's say that Party A candidates have won in Z District for a long time, and Party B candidates there have given up. But VLC, with 20% of the Z District vote, changes that.

With 20% of the vote, VLC could compel almost any candidate in any race to decrease campaign spending and cut special-interest influence.

Candidate Brown of Party B now thinks, If Party B supporters give me just 31% of the vote, add VLC's 20%, and I win with 51%! I have a chance.

If Party A incumbent Adams spends too much money (incumbents have more campaign money available to them, especially special interest money), Brown has a great chance of winning with VLC support.

If Adams keeps his spending below VLC standard limits, Brown still has a better chance than in the past because his spending is now equal to Adams's spending. Even if Brown doesn't win, Adams has spent less, and special interest influence has dropped.

Will VLC ever stay out of a campaign?

As long as both major-party candidates keep their spending below standard spending limits, VLC won't back either candidate, and VLC supporters can vote for whomever they like. These standard limits, yet to be established, must be low enough so that candidates don't have to rely on special interest money to raise campaign funds.

I believe in VLC principles and goals, and would like to support VLC efforts. But I won't vote for the "other party" candidate, even if they spend less than "my party's" candidate. What are my options?

Help VLC grow, and support us in any way you want. Then when voting time comes around, vote your conscience. Even if you don't vote low cost, we appreciate your support. We are confident that, with the help of many like you, we will enlist enough middle-of-the-roaders to achieve our 10-to-20% swing-vote goals.

You also have the no-vote option: If your party's candidate spends more, don't vote in that race. Your non-vote will be half a vote in support of VLC.

Work with VLC, then vote your conscience at the ballot box.
The no-vote option: if your party's candidate spends more, don't vote for anyone in that race. Your non-vote will be a half a vote in support of VLC.

Besides, once candidates start observing standard spending limits, it won't matter whom VLC supporters vote for. So support us and help achieve VLC goals.

FAQ about Steps 2 & 3: Constitutional Amendments
In Step 2, why does VLC target redistricting instead of other reform issues?

Politicians will not willingly vote for constitutional amendments for reform, because reforms go against their self-interests. VLC will need lots of political clout in order to pressure politicians into supporting reform.

Fair and competitive redistricting will create more close races for congress, both at the state and federal level. The closer the race, the stronger the impact VLC has on who wins. More close races means increased VLC influence on politicians. So redistricting reform will help VLC gain the political clout needed to pressure politicians into voting for reform.

Why do we need constitutional amendments instead of regular laws?

Ordinary legislation is too easily changed or overturned by lawsuits or by new legislation. In the past, many reform laws were soon weakened in this way, and the same will happen in the future. But constitutional amendments resist such tampering.

What issues will these constitutional amendments address?

We don't know yet. Informed persons of varying political persuasions believe reform is needed in various areas of government, in addition to campaign spending reform and redistricting reform. Deciding on the issues and amendments will require broad, open dialogue among the groups who will hopefully join VLC in this process.

Proposed amendments should meet the following criteria:

  1. The amendment addresses reforms that politicians cannot be expected to enact on their own, for reasons of political self-interest. For example, most incumbent politicians will not support campaign spending limits or fair, competitive redistricting reform because both decrease their chances of being re-elected. On that basis, VLC could champion campaign spending and redistricting amendments.
  2. The amendment is middle-of-the-road and non-partisan; it is supported by a majority of those in the political middle.

The VLC campaign will offer us a unique opportunity to write significant political reform into our federal and state constitutions. We must make the best use of this special situation by enacting those reforms that are in the best interests of America.

How can we be certain that these amendments will be politically middle-of-the-road, without a liberal or conservative bias?

VLC can only succeed by staying in the political middle ground. If proposed amendments stray to the left, those VLC supporters on the right and in the center will put up a fuss, and VLC power and influence will collapse if the issue is not properly resolved. The same will happen if they stray to the right.

And even when proposed amendments are in the middle, VLC will surely be criticized by those on the left for leaning to the right, and by those on the right for leaning to the left. At such times VLC will have to take a close, hard, and unbiased look at its own work, and act with integrity and open communication. If we stick to our principles and goals, we will eventually succeed.

What will be the approach to passing constitutional amendments?

The approach will vary from state to state, because states have different laws for how constitutional amendments are passed. And there's a whole different process for amendments to the Constitution of the USA. So VLC will have to develop its plan as it goes. When it requires a popular vote, VLC will educate and encourage citizens to vote for the proposed amendments; when it requires a legislative vote, VLC will use its swing-vote power to pressure politicians into voting for the amendments.
VLC will earn the popular support needed to get the job done only through maintaining its integrity and a firm commitment to principled action.