Voter Owned Elections (VOE) Program for
Chapel Hill Town Council & Mayoral Candidates
Declaration of Participation: A sworn statement stating that the candidate (a) agrees to participate in the Voter Owned Elections program, (b) agrees to the program’s spending and fundraising rules, and (c) agrees to collect only Qualifying Contributions from that date forward.
Qualifying Contributions (QCs): Contributions of $5 to $20 from residents of Chapel Hill who are registered to vote or eligible to register to vote in the Chapel Hill municipal election.
Rescue Funds: Additional public funds provided to VOE Certified Candidates when privately financed candidates or independent expenditure committees exceed a threshold of spending.
Seed Money: Funds raised before a candidate files a Declaration of Participation, in accordance with the Town’s current campaign finance regulations.
VOE Certified Candidate: A candidate on the ballot who abides by the VOE program rules and provides documentation that he/she has raised at least a minimum number of Qualifying Contributions, in amounts that add up to a minimum total, in order to receive a Public Grant. For a Council candidate, the minimums are at least 75 Qualifying Contributions that add up to at least $750. For a Mayoral candidate, the minimums are at least 150 QCs that add up to $1,500.
VOE Grant and Contribution Index: The amounts established for seed money, qualifying contributions, public grants and rescue funds shall be adjusted by the Town Council as part of the budget approval each even-numbered years, to be effective January 1 in each odd numbered year after 2009 to reflect the impact of inflation from amounts for the Voter Owned Elections Program in effect in 2009, subject to any applicable contribution limitations established by law, or by such other method as approved by the Board of Elections.
3 Stages of Campaign:
1 - Seed Money Period: From January 1 of the election year until filing a Declaration of Participation, a candidate who intends to participate in the VOE program can raise a limited amount of Seed Money from sources and in amounts allowed by the current Chapel Hill rules (for example, a maximum of $250 from a non-family contributor).
• For Council candidates, the Seed Money limit is $750
• For Mayoral candidates, the Seed Money limit is $1,500
2 - Qualifying Period: From as early as May 1 to as late as 18 days before Election Day, a candidate can file a Declaration of Participation and begin collecting the Qualifying Contributions (QCs) needed to become a Certified VOE Candidate. No gift or anything of value may be given in exchange for a QC. During this period, the candidate can only spend leftover Seed Money and QCs.
• To become a Certified VOE Candidate, a Council candidate must raise at least 75
Qualifying Contributions that add up to at least $750
• To become a Certified VOE Candidate, a Mayoral candidate must raise at least 150
Qualifying Contributions that add up to at least $1,500.
3 - Public Grant Period: After filing a notice of candidacy (i.e., not before July), a participating candidate may submit documentation to become a Certified VOE Candidate. The Board of Elections has up to 4 full business days to oppose the Town awarding a public grant to the candidate. Documentation must include the name, address, and amount given by each QC donor and a sworn statement from the candidate that, to the best of his/her knowledge, the QCs do not violate any statutes (e.g., the prohibition against giving in the name of someone else) and all of the QCs are from voting-age citizens who reside in Chapel Hill. From this time on, the candidate can only spend leftover Seed Money, QCs, and Public Funds. After receiving a grant of Public Funds, the candidate can continue raising QCs of any amount up to $20 per donor, up to an aggregate total of $2,250 for a Council candidate or $4,500 for a Mayoral candidate.
• For Certified Council candidates, the Public Grant is $3,000 – plus possible rescue funds,
as described below.
• For Certified Mayoral candidates, the Public Grant is $9,000 – plus possible rescue funds.
I. For all candidates:
(a) Unified Campaign Activity/Reporting: All expenditures for the campaign must be paid out of a single campaign account, no unreported debt may be carried over after Election Day, and no debt may be incurred after Election Day.
(b) Penalty: Disclosure reports must be certified by the candidate as correct and in compliance with the law and program rules; knowingly certifying a false report is a violation of criminal law.
II. For VOE Certified Candidates:
(a) Excess QCs: Any Qualifying Contributions raised above a total of $2,250 for a Council candidate or $4,500 for a Mayoral candidate must go to the benefit the Public Fund. The excess will either reduce the amount awarded as a Public Grant or, if the timing makes that difficult, the excess must be paid by the candidate to the Public Fund.
(b) Rescue Funds: Additional public funds are awarded to a VOE Certified Candidate, up to an additional $2000 for each Council VOE Certified Candidate and up to an additional $4000 for each Mayoral VOE Certified Candidate, in order to match financial activity by non-participating candidates or independent expenditure committees that exceed a certain threshold. Rescue funds are awarded when non-participating candidates raise or spend more than 140% of total amount of money which Certified Candidates are permitted to spend. Rescue funds may also be awarded when an independent committee spends more than that amount on electioneering advocacy that names a candidate. Rescue funds would be awarded upon review and approval by the Board of Elections.
(c) Low Funds: If public funds are insufficient for the program, available funds are prorated to the VOE Certified Candidates, and they are released to raise the remaining amount in private funds. Candidates can revoke participation in the program by returning all public funds.
(d) Total Dollars: The maximum amounts, not counting rescue funds, that VOE Certified Candidates would have for their campaigns are: $6,000 for a Council candidate ($750 of Seed Money, $2,250 in Qualifying Contributions, and a $3,000 Public Grant) and $15,000 for a Mayoral candidate ($1,500 of Seed Money, $4,500 in QCs, and a $9,000 Public Grant).
III. For all candidates and independent expenditure committees:
(a) Additional Disclosure: All candidates must file a disclosure report 5 days before Election Day, covering activity since the previous report through 6 days before the election, including obligations made by the campaign (e.g., for a printing job); this feature provides increased disclosure of last-minute fundraising and spending.
(b) Reports for Rescue Funds: A non-participating candidate must report, electronically or by fax, within 24 hours of raising or spending more than 100% of the spending limit established for a participating candidate seeking the same elective office (Council or Mayor). A subsequent report in the same manner is required upon raising or spending more than 140% of the spending limit established for a participating candidate seeking the same elective office. Each independent expenditure committee must do the same when its spending exceeds 50%, 100% and 140% of the applicable spending limit. The program administrator may require additional reports to facilitate awarding of rescue funds in a timely manner.