Updated June 03, 2011
It's an old idea; something guys like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson might have thought of back in the day, but the not-so-old U.S. Rep Dan Boren (D-Oklahoma) thinks elections should be decided by actual voters.
Rep. Boren, tired of seeing big money from far away influence the outcome of Senate and House elections, has introduced an amendment to the Constitution that would allow candidates to accept financial campaign contributions only from people who actually live in their state or congressional district.
Also See: Amending the Constitution
"It has become all too clear, the influence that outside groups and individuals have had on American politics," said Rep. Boren in a press release. "I want to restore the power back to the people so they determine who represents them."
Local Elections, Local Money
If passed by Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the states within seven years, Boren's proposed constitutional amendment (H.J. Res. 65), would:
- Bar candidates running for the office of U.S. Senator from accepting contributions, funds and in-kind equivalents, from individuals who do not reside in the state the candidate seeks to represent.
- Bar candidates running for the office of representative, delegate, or resident commissioner in the U.S. House of Representatives from accepting contributions, funds and in-kind equivalents, from individuals who do not reside in the Congressional district the candidate seeks to represent.
The Process and the Prospects
As a Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution, Rep. Boren's H.J. Res. 65 will require a two-thirds vote for passage in both the House and Senate, but will not require the signature of the president. If passed by both the House and Senate, the amendment would go directly to the states for ratification.
Of the thousands of proposals that have been made to amend the Constitution, only 33 have ever obtained the necessary two-thirds vote in Congress. Of those 33, only 27 amendments (including the Bill of Rights) have been ratified by the states.
What are the chances that Rep. Boren's proposal will become the 28th Amendment? After considering that simply getting the resolution through the U.S. Congress will require 357 incumbent politicians - 67-of-100 Senators and 290-of-435 Representatives - to vote for a measure that would greatly limit their own ability to accept campaign contributions, you decide.
Campaign Contribution Laws for Individuals
If you want to contribute money, time or services to a political candidate or committee, you should know that the Federal Campaign Finance Law places legal limits on how much and what you can give. Representatives of the candidate's campaign committee should be aware of these laws and inform you of them. But, just in case, here are the current campaign contribution laws for individuals.