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Fair Elections

The state ban on funding for political campaigns for elected offices would be lifted. For the 2014 and 2018 elections, candidates for the office of Secretary of State could choose to receive public funds to pay for the costs of campaigns if they reached certain requirements. Charges related to lobbyists would be increased to pay for these costs.

Yes: 1,623,568 [42.5%]
No: 2,189,734 [57.5%]

Pro / Con


Supporters say that the amount of money in politics is detrimental and corrupts the political system. They claim that Proposition 15 will get politicians to focus on California's priorities instead of raising money.


Yes on Prop.15
California Democratic Party [Archived in Internet Archive]
California Common Cause
California Clean Money Campaign
The League of Women Voters of California
The Sierra Club of California


Opponents say that Proposition 15 will raise taxes without accountability. They claim that the Proposition will provide taxpayer money to politicians to fund their campaigns while still allowing politicians to raise money from special interest groups.


Stop Prop. 15 [Archived in Internet Archive]
California Republican Party
The California Chamber of Commerce
The California Fair Political Practices Commission



SurveyUSA Election Poll #16638
“On Proposition 15, which allows public funding of political campaigns, are you ... Certain to vote yes? Certain to vote no? Or not certain? {"Not certain" voters were asked: At this hour, on Proposition 15, do you ... lean toward yes? lean toward no, or do you not lean? }””



The California Political Reform Act of 1974 established a ban on any public officer from accepting and spending any public funds for the purpose of seeking elective office. All elected offices as the state level and most local level offices are covered by this ban. Proposition 15, or The California Fair Elections Act, on the June 8, 2010 ballot would reverseCalifornia Senate Chamber, this restriction by establishing a Fair Elections Fund which would be used to support the campaigns of candidates in the Secretary of State races in 2014 and 2018. The Legislature could vote to extend this expiration date. Proposition 15 would allow up to 10 percent of all money deposited to the Fair Election Fund every four years to pay for administering the program. The fund would be made up of funds primarily supplied by increased charges on lobbyists and qualifying contributions to candidates. The state legislative analyst estimates that the proposition would raise more than $6 million every four years.

The California Fair Elections Act originated as AB 583 (Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley), which passed the Legislature in September 2008. The act was passed after a section was amended to not include the governor's race and elections for two legislative seats, leaving only the Secretary of State race.

Charges to Lobbyists

Currently, all lobbyists, lobbying firms, and lobbyist employers must register with the Secretary of State every two years and pay a $25 fee. Under Proposition 15, the amount would be raised to $350 per year which would be deposited in the Fair Elections Fund for campaigns. The proposition requires that these charges be adjusted for inflation in the future. The increase in lobbying fees would form the core source of money for the Fair Elections Fund.

Primary Election Campaigns

Major party candidates who seek money from the Fair Election Fund would be required to collect qualifying contributions from 7000 registered voters. At $5 a contribution, the qualifying total would be $37,000. Candidates in other parties must collect contributions from 3,750 registered voters for a total of $18,750. Candidates who do not seek these funds would pay for their campaigns under current rules.

Participating major party candidates would receive $1 million for their primary election campaign. They would receive matching funds to equal the amount spent by nonparticipating major party candidates and outside organizations. Candidates could receive up to $4 million of these funds. Minor party candidates would receive $200,000 in funding under the measure. In order to receive the matching funds available to the major party candidates, they would have to collect 15,000 qualifying contributions for a total of $75,000.

General Election Campaigns

Proposition 15 also establishes rules for candidates seeking to use Fair Election Fund monies for general election campaigns. A qualifying major party candidate is required to have participated in the public financing program during the campaign for the primary election earlier in the year. Independent candidates who are not affiliated with any political party would be required to collect 15,000 qualifying contributions to receive the same level of public financing in the general election as major party candidates. Major party candidates would receive a base funding of $1.3 million plus additional matching funds to equal the amount spent by nonparticipating major party candidates and outside organizations. They would be eligible for up to an additional $5.2 million. Minor party candidates would receive $325,000 in base funding.

Voter Resources

Voter Resources

Official CA Documents

Official Voter Information Guide

Bill Documents

Campaign Finance Information

Cal-Access General
Committees formed to support or oppose the ballot measure

Cal-Access Ballot Measure Summary Data Search
Select Primary 08 June 2010 and Proposition 015.

Cal-Access provides financial information supplied by state candidates, donors, lobbyists, and others.

Nonpartisan Analyses


Pros & Cons (League of Women Voters)

Taking Elections off the Auction Block: Comparison of CA and other states shows Fair Election programs reduce the role of big money in buying elections, Derek Cressman, Common Cause, May 2010.