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.
In November 2022, Oakland voters passed Measure W, the Oakland Fair Elections Act. Measure W enacted several campaign finance reforms that change the way campaigns are typically financed for Oakland candidates.
One major reform allows the Oakland Public Ethics Commission (Commission or PEC) to distribute "Democracy Dollars" to eligible Oakland residents. The new law outlines criteria for participation and thresholds that a candidate must meet to qualify for the program and receive their assigned vouchers, including campaign spending limits and participation in a certain number of public forums. The Democracy Dollars program also includes a significant outreach component to encourage broad participation in the new program.
Oakland is the first California city, and only the second city in the nation, to try this innovation in public campaign financing. The Commission is committed to increasing transparency, accountability, equity, and accessibility for how Oakland elections are financed.
In early 2024, the PEC will distribute the new Democracy Dollars to Oakland residents. Oakland residents can use their Democracy Dollars to support participating candidates running for Oakland elected offices.