2019 'Voter Dollars' Bill Summary

Findings. Americans have grown cynical. Faith in government and the democratic system is at a low ebb. When citizens look at the huge amounts of money spent on political campaigns, so much of it coming from special interests—PACs, dark-money groups, and the very wealthy—they perceive corruption and conclude, not incorrectly, that the political playing field is heavily tilted against them. They feel powerless, they disengage, and democracy loses its driving force. The problem is especially acute at the federal level, but the cancer is rapidly metastasizing, spreading to the states. New Hampshire is not immune.

Purpose. The purpose of this act is to increase citizen engagement and reduce corruption and the appearance of corruption in government through a voluntary system that, in exchange for limited public financing, requires participating candidates to accept only small private campaign contributions.

Summary of the Legislation

** as currently written


  1. Creates a new chapter of state law to implement the system
  2. Participation in the system would be voluntary
  3. Candidates who wish to participate must qualify
    1. Candidates for Governor: raise 2,500 “qualifying contributions” (between $5 and $500)
    2. Candidates for Executive Council: raise 500 “qualifying contributions” (between $5 and $250)
  4. Candidates who wish to participate must agree to limits on campaign contributions
    1. Candidates for Governor: $500 per donor limit on contributions during the primary campaign
    2. Candidates for Executive Council: $250 per donor limit on contributions during the primary campaign
    3. Same limits apply during the general election
    4. Minimum percentage of contributions must come from persons eligible to vote in the election **Working Group still to decide percentage
    5. Contributions from lobbyists, businesses and Labor Unions not allowed
    6. Personal spending by candidate is limited
  5. Participating candidates must discourage and disavow any outside spending/independent expenditures made on their behalf
  6. Participating candidates must file campaign reports electronically
  7. Establishes a Fund for the system, to receive
    1. Voluntary contributions made to the fund through “check-off boxes” on registration, license, fee, tax and other forms
    2. Voluntary contributions made directly to the Fund through an online donation system
    3. Fines levied for violations of election laws
    4. Interest generated by the Fund
    5. After a campaign is over, any unspent public contributions would revert to the Fund
    6. **List of other funding sources still being developed by the Working Group
  8. Provides minimum Fund balance thresholds that must be reached before campaign funding begins
  9. Voter Dollars:
    1. Secretary of State to mail each voter four $25 certificates deemed “Voter Dollars”
    2. The total amount of “Voter Dollars” that may be accepted by a participating candidate will be capped
    3. All “Voter Dollars” not credited to a candidate in the primary campaign shall expire
  10. Grant System:
    1. Candidates in the general election will be credited a flat “grant” amount to supplement “Voter Dollars” and small private contributions
    2. Amount will vary depending on office sought and whether general election is contested or uncontested
    3. **Amount of grants still being decided by Working Group
  11. Establishes a legislatively-appointed Commission to decide any remaining details of implementation, review effectiveness of system and report back to the Legislature, and recommend timeline for expansion
  12. Provides penalties for violations of the new RSA chapter