Clean Elections needs scrubbing

Asbury Park Press

The commission charged with overseeing the state's Clean Elections pilot project held a post mortem this week at Brookdale Community College. Among the suggestions from the audience: Do a better job promoting the merits of state-funded elections and push for a statewide ballot question asking voters to approve expansion of publicly funded legislative campaigns to all districts.  More publicity would help. But it shouldn't be done until the Clean Elections program is reformed and worth promoting; as of now, it isn't. And the Legislature shouldn't wait for voters to tell them public financing of legislative elections is needed. Lawmakers should fix the program's flaws, then proceed full-speed ahead with its implementation.

This year's pilot project, conducted in the 13th and 6th legislative districts, was an unmitigated failure. In the 13th District, which includes portions of Monmouth County, none of the six candidates for two Assembly seats was able to collect the 1,000 $5 checks and 500 $30 checks needed to qualify for the $59,175 in public money.

Before worrying about how best to promote Clean Elections, the commission, which is expected to present a preliminary report to the state Legislature in February and a final report in May, should devote all its energy to making the program workable.

The commission must make it easier for candidates to qualify for public funding. It must ensure equal funding for all candidates who meet the funding threshold

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