What Are Democracy Dollars?

The Democracy Dollars Program offers a new way for Oakland residents to participate in local government by supporting campaigns and/or running for office themselves. Democracy Dollars are certificates that Oakland residents can give to participating candidates to help support their campaigns. The Democracy Dollars Program is expected to launch beginning in the 2026 election cycle.

Posted: April 10th, 2023 2:30 PM

Last Updated: July 14th, 2023 8:23 AM

Who can use Democracy Dollars?

In order to use Democracy Dollars, you must be:

  • An Oakland resident,
  • At least 18 years of age, and
  • A U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident ("green card holder")

You do not have to be a registered voter to use Democracy Dollars. If you meet the criteria, you may apply for Democracy Dollars.

When is the first election I can use Democracy Dollars?

Funds available for 2026 candidates will be announced after the 2025-2027 Budget is adopted in June 2025. In early 2026, the PEC will distribute the Democracy Dollars to Oakland residents. Eligible residents can then use their Democracy Dollars to support participating candidates running for Oakland elected offices.

How do I get my Democracy Dollars?

If you are a registered voter, you will automatically receive your Democracy Dollars by mail.

If you are not a registered voter, you may be eligible apply to receive Democracy Dollars by downloading the application.

Can I give my Democracy Dollars to any candidate?

Your Democracy Dollars can be given to any participating candidate. A list of participating candidates will be posted on the Program website in early 2026.

Which positions are eligible for Democracy Dollars funding in 2026?

In 2026, the eight city seats will be on the ballot:

  • Mayor
  • City Auditor
  • City Council DIstrict 2
  • City Council District 4
  • City Council District 6
  • School Board District 2
  • School Board District 4
  • School Board District 6

A list of participating candidates will be available in early 2026.

Can I give all my Democracy Dollars to one candidate?

You can choose to give all your Dollars to one candidate or split your Dollars to multiple candidates. You may choose to use a few Dollars now and a few later. But don't wait too long because candidates can only accept a limited number of Dollars.

Can I contribute my Democracy Dollars towards a ballot initiative, referendum, or recall campaign?

No, Democracy Dollars can only be. donated to participating candidates running for City of Oakland office

How do I return my Democracy Dollars?

Democracy Dollars may be returned directly to a candidate's campaign, to the Oakland Public Ethics Commission, or dropped-off at one of the many designated locations. Dollars must have your signature and the candidate's name clearly written to be processed.

When should I use my Democracy Dollars?

Your Dollars are good from the time you receive them through November 30, 2026. You can use your Dollars all at once or over the course of the year.

How can I get involved with the Democracy Dollars program?

There are many ways to stay informed and get involved in this exciting new program: