Tallahassee is launching a new campaign contribution refund program in time for this November’s elections.
When Tallahassee voters donate to local campaigns this fall they could get up to $25 back. Program manager Julie Meadows-Keefe hopes to boost political engagement at the local level.
“The overall goal of the program is to increase engagement of the electorate, down to the grassroots, citizens’ level,” she said.
67% of voters passed the plan in November 2014, as a part of a broader ethics measure. Represent Us and Integrity Florida spearheaded the proposal, with the hope of building grassroots support for campaign finance reform. Meadows-Keefe says political contributors have more skin in the game.
“Folks that maybe otherwise could not afford to give to a campaign, or wouldn’t have participated in giving in the past, might be incentivized to give the donation. And there has been research that indicates that if people donate they are more likely to vote,” she said.
While personal contributions to local campaigns are capped at $250, voters can only get a maximum of $25 back. Meadows-Keefe says voters can access the paperwork and get more information at talgov.com.
“They just need to fill out a refund claim form, which they can fill in right there on the website. They need to attach a receipt documenting their contribution. And then they mail that in and the refund will be processed,” she said.
But some still question how effective the program will be. Will 25 bucks really get more local voters to the polls? Meadows-Keefe says the jury is still out.
“It is the first program of its kind in the nation. This has not been done before on a municipal, city level. So there’s not really a basis to say it will or it won’t work. It’s an open question,” she said.
The city has set aside $20,000 for the refund program.