Focus

About Us
Our mission is to achieve fair elections and government policies that reflect the will of the people, not the power of money.

Our focus is on reforms intended to strengthen democracy in Washington State and nationally, such as campaign finance reform, public funding of elections, ranked choice voting, reversing Citizens United, expanding voting access, and increasing civic participation.

Since 2017, we helped pass 20 bills that strengthen our democracy, registered over 3,000 new voters, and we're just getting started

What is fIx democracy first?

We are a group of concerned citizens working on a range of democratic reforms relating to money in politics, voting access, government transparency and ethics, and ranked choice voting. We lobby these issues by testifying before the Washington State Legislature on behalf of our members, as well as through public events and workshops.

Fix Democracy first Education Fund

Fix Democracy First Education Fund (FDFEF) is the education wing of Fix Democracy First, FDFEF is a statewide organization thats focuses on voter education and civic participation to help achieve fair elections and government policies that reflect the will of the people and not the power of money. We are dedicated to informing and educating the public about voting and democracy issues to increase civic participation.

Democracy Lobby Days with the League of women Voters

In 2018, 2019 & 2020, Fix Democracy First and the League of Women Voters of WA have hosted annual Democracy Lobby Days in Olympia, WA. The event, averaging 150 people at each, lobbies for pro-democracy legislation in Washington State. Our next Democracy Lobby Day is scheduled for February 16, 2021 in Olympia, WA.

History & Highlights

Washington Public Campaigns

2001-2008

In 2001, a group of concerned citizens took up the cause begun in the 1990’s by the Washington Council for Fair Elections (WCFE). WCFE’s attempts to repeal the ban on public funding of “local” campaigns included in the 1992 “campaign finance reform” Initiative 134 and to create a system to publicly fund campaigns fell short and national funding collapsed in the late 90’s. WCFE’s successor, Washington Working Group for Campaign Finance Reform, followed up with organizing grassroots activists. The executive director, Catherine Carter, and volunteers created a database and clean elections materials to promote public funding of elections. They incorporated in the State of Washington on April 30, 2003 as Washington Public Campaigns (WPC) and applied to the IRS for recognition as a 501(c)(4) organization. Washington Public Campaigns Education Fund (WPCEF), was incorporated and recognized as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization in 2007.

WPC began lobbying the legislature for “clean elections” bills as momentum for public funding of campaigns grew. In addition to bills to repeal the campaign funding ban, WPC worked with legislators to file bills to fund judicial campaigns and State executive and legislative campaigns. The ban on campaign funding was finally lifted in 2008.

With the leadership of Craig Salins as Executive Director beginning in 2005, the connections to allied organizations expanded and a plan and budget for organizing chapters by legislative district increased the number of individuals involved in the organization. The database grew to several thousand with volunteers collecting petition signatures, tabling and holding public events. The first awards banquet was held in 2007 and became an Important annual fundraiser and means of recognizing champions of democracy. (See award recipients 2007-19 listed below)

2007 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Harry Abbott, Everett
  • Organization: 1978-79 Seattle City Council
  • Public Official: Gov. Christine Gregoire

2008 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Rebecca Lamb, Spokane
  • Organization: League of Women Voters of WA
  • Public Official: 43rd LD State Rep. Frank Chopp

2009 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Betty Ogden, Pierce County
  • Organization: Common Cause
  • Public Official: 21st LD State Rep. Marko Liias
2010

WPC turned its attention in 2010 to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs. FEC decision. As campaign finance reforms were discarded and contributions to campaigns from wealthy individuals and corporations soared, the damage to democracy became more and more evident. WPC began working with groups to pass local resolutions supporting a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United. In January 2012 on the second anniversary of the decision, WPC collaborated with the Occupy movement to hold a major anti-corporate rally and created GMOP, a coalition focused on Getting Money Out of Politics. WPC joined the State Legislative Resolution Planning Committee (SLRPC) and took on the effort to lobby the legislature to adopt a Resolution to Congress. This was also a time when national Move to Amend was organizing affiliates around the state to advocate for a 28th amendment clarifying “Money is not Speech and Corporations are not People”.

2010 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Elsie Simon, Seattle
  • Organization: Washington Community Action Network (WACAN)
  • Public Official: 45th LD State Sen. Eric Oemig
2011

2011 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Monica Hoover, Olympia
  • Organization: WashPIRG
  • Public Official: 11th LD State Rep. Bob Hasegawa
2012

In August 2012, the WPC was shocked and saddened when Craig Salins suddenly died of a heart attack. Alice Woldt, a board member who had recently retired agreed to step up to keep the organization moving forward on campaign finance reform and overturning Citizens United.

2013

WPC became a coalition partner of Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution (WAmend) in 2013. Bylaws were adopted in July and planning for an initiative campaign for the 2014 ballot began.

After the successful reversal of the law prohibiting public funding of campaigns, WPC worked to pass Fair Elections Seattle (FES), a proposal for a system of public financing for Seattle campaigns adopted by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Committee and City Council for the 2013 fall ballot. Prop 1 lost by only 1400 votes, but paved the way for a successful Initiative 122 in 2015 that created the Seattle Democracy Voucher Program, a citywide public funding system that gives all Seattle legal residents $100 in vouchers to give to eligible participating candidates in Seattle City mayoral, city council, and city attorney races.

Renamed fix democracy first

2014

In 2014, Washington Public Campaigns changed its name to Fix Democracy First (FDF) in order to work on a broader scope of democracy reforms; and Washington Public Campaigns Education Fund, became Fix Democracy First Education Fund. An advisory board was created to advise on advancing FDF priorities.

As a member of the WAmend steering committee, Fix Democracy First worked to support Initiative 1329, the first attempt to pass a statewide initiative calling for a 28th Amendment. With only a few months for volunteers to collect signatures, the campaign came up a bit short with 175,000 of the 247,000 required to get on the ballot in 2014. WAmend changed its strategy and began planning for an initiative to the legislature which allowed it an additional six months to collect signatures.

2014 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Linda Bock, Redmond
  • Organization: SMAC (Spokane Move to Amend the Constitution)
  • Public Official: Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien
2015

In 2015, through fundraising and other efforts, Fix Democracy First for I-735 brought in over 40,000 signatures to add to the 290,000 signatures gathered by WAmend volunteers to get Initiative 735 on the ballot. I-735 called on our Congressional delegation to pass legislation for a U.S. Constitutional amendment to reverse decisions like Citizens United. The initiative was ultimately successful, passing in 2016 with 62.8% approval statewide, and in all ten congressional districts. Cindy Black led the successful campaign as campaign manager for WAmend. She replaced Alice Woldt as FDF Executive Director after Alice’s retirement in July, 2016.

2015 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Estevan Munoz Howard
  • Organization: Reclaim the American Dream (RAD) Team
  • Public Official: 3rd LD State Sen. Andy Billig
2016

In 2016, FDF supported Initiative 1464, a statewide effort to create a system of publicly funding campaigns proposed by the national organization Represent Us and loosely based upon Honest Elections Seattle’s voucher system. The initiative was unsuccessful.

2016 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Stacey Cossey, Spokane and Harriet Bullitt, Wenatchee
  • Organization: Sightline Institute
  • Public Official: 22nd LD State Rep. Sam Hunt

Merged - with WAmend

2017

In early 2017, following the victory of passing I-735, Fix Democracy First and WAmend decided to join forces in order to continue and strengthen the work needed for democracy reforms.

Later that year a, FDF adopted FairVote Washington as a project to focus on alternative voting systems, Ranked Choice Voting and Proportional Representation for Washington State. FairVote WA became their own 501(c)(4) in late 2018, and we will continue to support their efforts for RCV in WA State either through the legislature or the ballot.

We also began to expand our Voter Outreach & Civic Education efforts as ongoing projects of Fix Democracy First Education Fund. We sponsored voter registration and information booths at over a dozen festivals, registering over 3,000 people and engaging with hundreds of thousands of WA residents. FDEF also sponsored and helped lead over a hundred educational forums in various parts of the state on issues such as voting, campaign finance, ranked choice voting, redistricting, election security, fair courts, and other information about democracy, voting and elections.

2017 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Linda Brewster, Port Townsend
  • Organization: Washington Voter Justice Coalition
  • Public Official: 6th Cong. Dist. Rep Derek Kilmer
2018

In 2018, FDF worked with the WA Voting Justice Coalition and League of Women Voters of WA to pass the Access to Democracy bills that included the WA Voting Rights Act, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, pre-registration for 16 & 17-year-olds, and the WA Disclose Act of 2018.

2018 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Lou Marteny, Vancouver
  • Organization: The Meaningful Movies Project
  • Public Official: 11th LD State Rep. Zack Hudgins
2019

In 2019, FDF worked with the WA Voting Justice Coalition and League of Women Voters of WA to pass the several democracy bills that included prepaid postage for all ballots, WA Native American Voting Rights Act, notification of voting rights for previously incarcerated, ending prison gerrymandering, and requiring PAC to PAC disclosure of campaign contributions.

Seattle clean campaigns act

In the fall of 2018, FDF began working with Free Speech for People to develop an ordinance for the City of Seattle that would limit super PACs and ban foreign-influenced corporations from donating to Seattle elections. FDF brought the ordinance to Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González who decided she would sponsor and champion the bill.

Then in the summer of 2019, the Seattle Clean Campaigns Act, was formally introduced by CM Lorena González which included the following for city elections:

  • Prohibit political spending by corporations owned in significant part by foreign investors with a 5% combined or 1% single foreign ownership
  • Limit contributions to $5000 in an election cycle to “independent expenditure” political committees, thereby ending super PACs in city elections
  • Expand Seattle’s existing disclosure rules to require commercial advertisers to report information about political advertisements outside of the narrow context of an election campaign.

In early 2020, public and expert hearings, two parts of the Seattle Clean Campaigns Act passed, which included:

  • Prohibit political spending by corporations owned in significant part by foreign investors with a 5% combined or 1% single foreign ownership
  • Expand Seattle’s existing disclosure rules to require commercial advertisers to report information about political advertisements outside of the narrow context of an election campaign.

*The piece of the act that limits contributions to $5000 in an election cycle to “independent expenditure” political committees, thereby ending super PACs in city elections, is still alive and hoping to see it pass in the summer of 2020

2019 Annual Award Winners

  • Volunteer: Lisa Ayrault, Kirkland
  • Organization: OneAmerica
  • Public Official: King County Elections Director, Julie Wise
2020

In 2020, FDF worked with the WA Voting Justice Coalition to pass the youth VOTE Act that expands voting in primaries to 17-year-olds if they will be 18 and eligible to vote in the general election, as well as opens up voting centers on all four-year college campuses throughout the State of Washington.

Democracy Lobby Days

In 2018, 2019 & 2020, FDF and the League of Women Voters of WA hosted annual Democracy Lobby Days in Olympia, WA, averaging 150 people at each event lobbying for pro-democracy legislation in Washington State. Our next Democracy Lobby Day is scheduled for February 16, 2021 in Olympia, WA.

our Team

Small but mighty, learn more about the Staff and Board members that are working to achieve fair elections and government policies that reflect the will of the people and not the power of money.

contact us

Have a question? Email us directly at info@fixdemocracyfirst.org, or find us on social media.

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