Cell Phone Democracy: Legalizing Texting Donations to Campaigns

Jasmine Segall's picture

Now, even cell phones can be used as a campaigning tool. California is about to become the first state to allow citizens to text donations to local and state campaigns. 
 
This is a giant step in the right direction for Gov 2.0. The law has the potential to bring millions of voters from diverse economic backgrounds into the realm of politics, as practically everyone has a cell phone nowadays. And even a $5 donation makes people more likely to engage in a campaign and vote - according to the Federal Political Practices Commission’s Executive Director, Roman Porter
 
Essentially, the proposal bypasses the internet and the annoyance of processing a credit card by allowing the donor to text the donation on his or her cell phone - which is then charged to the donor’s phone bill. 
 
With the Obama campaign’s aggressive effort to attract small donors giving as little as $5, one wonders how this law would benefit campaigns if it were applied on a federal level. Already, Obama’s 2012 campaign is proudly claiming 85% of its donors have given $80 or less - and so far, between his campaign and the Democratic National Committee, he has a raised a total of $86 million. 
 
Governor Brown has also been a leader in encouraging small donations in his presidential race in 1992. He generated a significant amount of support for his campaign when he created a 1-800 number for campaign contributions.
 
This is a great tool to involve everyone in the political process. But will it be effective? Guess we’ll have to wait till the 2012 California elections to find out! 

Valery Nechay's picture

Steps to Allowing Civic Participation to Flourish

I think this is another testament of the reality that if we lower barriers to participation, whether it is the form or manner in which we can politically contribute donations or liberalizing the process of actually voting( without all of the excessive identification and voter id cards and red tape that some red states insist on) then the net result will be a resurgence in overall civic participation, including political donations, and the sacred act of voting. This is particularly imperative in a country that touts to be the world's best democracy, and yet our rates of voting even during presidential elections remain at a staggering 54%, compared to European countries like Italy, Greece, and Denmark- which all have 75-90% running to the booths on election day ! We need to keep thinking of more creative ways for people to contribute in order to restore a well-rounded  democracy, characterized not only by robust and often, divisive debate, but also by active civic participation. This is certainly a good start. 

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137