The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A publicly funded election is an election which is funded with federal tax and/or income tax.
In the United States
Methods of publicly funded election legislation have been adopted in Colorado, Maine, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Arizona, North Carolina, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Massachusetts. In addition, public funding of elections have been incorporated at the municipal level in several cities. Wisconsin's 33 year old program was defunded by the state legislature in 2011 by Gov. Scott Walker and the legislature's joint finance committee. California recently overturned its ban on publicly funded elections, but charter cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles were already exempt from the ban and already have some form of public financing.
Some of these laws have run into constitutional problems in the courts. When the Citizens United v. FEC decision defined money as a form of speech, the movement toward limiting campaign spending and publicly financing campaigns was stopped in several cities and states, although many of the core programs were kept in place. Some portions (such as state supplemental funds for publicly financed candidates whose opponents outspend them) of the Vermont system were found newly unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Randall v. Sorrell., but the core program of full funding of governor and lieutenant governor candidates remains in place. Portions of Connecticut's statute were held unconstitutional in 2009, on the grounds that it unfairly discriminated against third party and independent candidates, but the core program of full funding of constitutional and legislative candidates remains in place. In July 2010 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld portions of the district court's order but allowed the core program to continue.
On June 27, 2011, ruling in the consolidated cases Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett and McComish v. Bennett, the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional the matching-funds provision of the Arizona law. The decision cast doubt on the new constitutionality of similar provisions in Maine, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. As a result, the Wisconsin legislature eliminated funding for its judicial elections in 2011.
Voters have not supported publicly funded elections in several referendums. In Massachusetts the system was repealed after a 2002 advisory initiative in which voters voted nearly 2 to 1 against using government funds to pay for political campaigns. Portland, Oregon's program was narrowly repealed by voters in a 2010 referendum. In 2008, a Clean Elections bill, the California Fair Elections Act (AB583) passed the California Assembly and Senate and was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Because of the ban on publicly funded elections, the law had to be approved by voters in an initiative in June 2010. On June 8, 2010, California voters decided against the measure by 57% to 43%. An earlier Clean Elections ballot initiative that suggested funding elections with a business tax, Proposition 89 was also defeated in California in 2006, by 74% against to 26% in favor of a corporate tax to fund elections. A Clean Elections ballot initiative in Alaska failed by a 64% to 35% margin in August 2008.
In 2013, North Carolina repealed its popular "Voter Owned Elections" program of public financing of judicial campaigns with 900 people arrested at the Moral Monday protests in Raleigh.
Comprehensive public funding systems have been in effect in Arizona and Maine since 2000. In Maine, since enactment, approximately three quarters of state legislators have run their campaigns with government funds provided by the state program. In Arizona, a majority of the state house and both the Republican and Democratic candidates for Governor ran publicly financed campaigns in 2006. There has not yet been a statewide election in Maine in which both the Republican and Democratic candidates were financed through the public financing system.
Seattle voters approved the Democracy voucher program in 2015, which gives city residents four $25 vouchers to donate to participating candidates. Since then, activists have pushed for democracy vouchers in other jurisdictions, arguing that the program would make political donors more reflective of the population, empower candidates to fundraise without relying on big donors, and decrease the influence of special interest groups over government.
Denver votes passed the Fair Elections Act in 2018 with 72% of the vote and a win in every precinct in the city. The law went into effect on January 1, 2020. The Fair Elections Act, which began as The Democracy For The People Initiative, has four major features: a ban on donations from corporations; the required disclosure of dark money sources; lowering the relatively high limits for the City of Denver to be on scale with the more reasonable statewide limits in Colorado; and a public funding component that provides a 9-to-1 match on contributions up to $50 for candidates who opt-in and don't take any money other than contributions from individuals.
In Other Countries
The United Kingdom, Norway, India, Russia, Brazil, Nigeria, Sweden are some jurisdictions where methods of publicly funded election legislation and the reasons for the need of alternatives to privately funded campaigns have been considered. http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/24/world/global-campaign-finance/index.html
Clean Elections: Differences from traditional reforms
"Clean Elections" is the name supporters have given to some public financing efforts, used most prominently in Maine and Arizona.
Some Clean Elections laws provide a government grant to candidates who agree to limit their spending and private fundraising. Candidates participating in a Clean Elections system are required to meet certain qualification criteria, which usually includes collecting a number of signatures and small contributions (generally determined by statute and set at $5 in both Maine and Arizona) before the candidate can receive public support. In most Clean Elections programs, these qualifying contributions must be given by constituents. To receive the government campaign grant, "Clean Candidates" must agree to forgo all other fundraising and accept no other private or personal funds. Candidates who choose not to participate are subject to limits on their fundraising, typically in the form of limits on the size of contributions they may accept and the sources of those contributions (such as limits on corporate or union contributions), and detailed reporting requirements.
In the US, in order to comply with Buckley v. Valeo, participation by candidates is not legally required. Originally, many Clean Elections programs provided that publicly financed candidates who were outspent by a privately funded candidate could receive additional funds (sometimes called "rescue funds") to match their privately funded opponent, up to a cap, with the intent of assuring that a candidate running with private funding would not outspend his government funded opponent. However, in Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, the U.S. Supreme Court held that such "rescue fund" provisions unconstitutionally burdened the rights of speakers by intentionally limiting the effectiveness of their own speech. Thus since Bennett clean elections systems in the U.S. have been forced to abandon the "rescue funds" approach.
In the US, SB 752, the Fair Elections Now Act, calling for publicly funded elections in U.S. Senate campaigns, was sponsored in the 111th Congress (2009–10) by Senators: Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Arlen Specter (D-PA). A companion bill, H.R. 1826, was introduced in the House, sponsored by John Larson (D-CT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Walter Jones (R-NC). Unlike the Clean Elections laws in Maine and Arizona, H.R. 1826 did not include the "rescue funds" provision, perhaps due to concern about constitutionality in the wake of the Davis decision. Neither bill moved out of committee.
Others who have endorsed clean elections include:
- Bernie Sanders (I-VT), current U.S. Senator and 2016 & 2020 U.S. Democratic presidential candidate 
- Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Massachusetts senator & 2020 U.S. Democratic presidential candidate
- Andrew Yang, 2020 U.S. Democratic presidential candidate 
- Gavin Newsom, 40th Governor of California
- Barack Obama (44th President of the United States) as an Illinois senator was the first co-sponsor of the 2007 version of the Durbin–Specter bill. (Obama chose not to participate in the public financing system in 2008)
- John Bonifaz, founder of the National Voting Rights Institute
- Bill Bradley (D-NJ), former U.S. Senator
- John Edwards (D-NC), former 2008 U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate and Senator 
- Adonal Foyle, NBA player, and founder of Democracy Matters
- Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), U.S. Senator from New York & 2020 presidential candidate 
- Cecil Heftel (D-HI), former U.S. Representative
- Ned Lamont (D-CT), 89th Governor of Connecticut
- John McCain (R-AZ), former 2008 U.S. Republican Presidential Candidate and Senator  (McCain expressed opposition to a national version of the system and did not endorse or co-sponsor the bills introduced in the U.S. Senate.)
- Ralph Nader of Connecticut, U.S. Independent Presidential Candidate
- Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), former governor, former Secretary of Homeland Security
- Bill Richardson (D-NM), former 2008 U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate and Governor
- Eliot Spitzer (D-NY), former governor 
- Joe Biden, current President of the United States and former Vice President
- Campaign finance reform in the United States
- Presidential election campaign fund checkoff
- Dark money
- Citizens United v. FEC
- Iron triangle
- Political finance, section on Regulation
- Party funding in Austria
- Federal political financing in Canada
- Party finance in Germany
- Political funding in Ireland
- Party funding in Israel
- Political funding in Japan
- Party funding in the Netherlands
- Political funding in New Zealand
- Party finance in Sweden
- Political funding in the United Kingdom
- Political funding in Australia
- Lueders, Bill (2011-06-30). "Campaign financing dead in Wisconsin". WisconsinWatch.org. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- "Connecticut Campaign Finance Law Ruled Unconstitutional". Wall Street Journal. 28 August 2009. Archived from the original on 14 September 2018. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield (2d Cir. 13 July 2010).Text
- Vogel, Kenneth P. (2011-06-27). "Narrow ruling on campaign finance". Politico.
- "November 2010 General Election - Official Results". The City of Portland Oregon.
- Kanalley, Craig (2010-06-09). "Huffington Post". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
- "2008 Primary Election Results". Anchorage Daily News. 21 October 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-01-02. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
- Smith, Adam (2013-07-26). "North Carolina Legislature Repeals Popular "Voter Owned Elections" Program". Public Campaign. Archived from the original on 2013-10-09.
- "Maine Ethics Commission: Maine Clean Election Act (MCEA)". Maine.gov. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
- Young, Bob (November 3, 2015). "'Democracy vouchers' win in Seattle; first in country". Seattle Times. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- "Democracy Policy Network". democracypolicy.network. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
- "S. 752: Fair Elections Now Act". GovTrack.us. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
- "April 13, 2009". The Nation. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
- John Edwards for President-One Democracy Initiative: Returning Washington To Regular People Archived 2007-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
- "Sen. McCain Embraces Clean Elections In Arizona Big Boost To Public Financing Seen". Publicampaign.org. 12 June 2002. Archived from the original on 2011-05-25.
- "Dialing for Clean Dollars". Thenation.com. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
- "Candidate Challenge: John McCain". YouTube. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
- "One New York" (PDF). State of the State 2007. p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-26.
Full public financing must be the ultimate goal of our reform effort.
- "Biden to roll out new ethics plan that would require publicly financed elections". NBC News. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
- Proposed US bill (introduced in House)
- Arizona law (pdf)
- Maine law
- Common Cause - list of state efforts
- Proposed New York Bill
- Early Experience of Two States that Offer Full Public Funding of Political Campaigns, study by United States Government Accounting Office.
- Reclaiming Democracy in Arizona, study by the Arizona Clean Elections Institute
- Campaign Promises: A Six-Year Review of Arizona's Experiment with Taxpayer-financed Campaigns, study by the Goldwater Institute.
- Testing Theories of American Politics, Princeton Study "Testing Theories of American Politics".
- Move to Amend
- Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission
- California Clean Money Campaign
- Institute for Free Speech
- Clean Elections Institute (Arizona)
- Common Cause
- Democracy Matters
- Fair Elections
- Rhode Islanders for Fair Elections
- Just Six Dollars
- League of Women Voters
- The National Institute on Money in State Politics
- The New York Democracy Project
- Oregon Follow the Money (from Democracy Reform Oregon)
- Every Voice[permanent dead link]
- Public Citizen
- Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE)
- Washington Public Campaigns (Washington State)
- Harvard Professor explains Money in Politics
- Surge in Dark Money at State and local level
- The Dirty Truth About Clean Elections
- Senator Peter Mills discusses Clean Elections in Maine[permanent dead link]
- Votes for Sale? A one-hour special from NOW on PBS
- Large Database of Clean Money Fair Elections Reform News
- Koch brothers challenges Wolf-Pac and gets torn to pieces
- Coverage from PBS's NOW with Bill Moyers
- AlterNet article
- Presidential election super pac donors
- Even corporate America wants campaign finance reform to stop crony capitalism
- YES! Magazine article by Public Campaign's Micah Sifry
- Embrace Irony by Lessig
- "Is Rhode Island Ready for Clean Elections?" – Providence Phoenix
- California Campaign Finance Reform