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Oakland Measure W: The Fair Elections Act

This is a 2-minute summary of Oakland’s Measure W on the November 8, 2022 ballot.

This measure would give Oakland residents who are eligible to vote a chance to donate to campaigns they believe in. If it’s passed, these Oaklanders would get “democracy dollars,” or four ballots worth $25 each.

A recent survey of potential voters found that many Oakland residents don’t donate to local campaigns because they simply can’t afford it. And in 2014 and 2016, 93% of election contributions came from less than 1% of the city’s population. That’s according to the equity organization Oakland Rising, which is one of the supporters of Measure W.

Other supporters include the ACLU and the Asian Law Caucus. They believe that the measure is a step towards a more democratic campaign funding model. And in 2015, Seattle successfully ran this model for their local elections.

There aren’t any formal arguments against the program. But both Oakland City Council member Dan Kalb and an editorial in the San Jose Mercury news acknowledge it’s expensive. It’s estimated it would cost an initial $700 thousand in start-up costs and around $2 million every year to keep the program going.

Other residents are skeptical of some of the reasoning behind the program, which is that Oakland’s wealthiest residents want to influence policies throughout the city.

To be clear, a “yes” vote on Measure W means you want the City of Oakland to give out the democracy dollars. A vote “no” means you don’t.

That's a brief take on Measure W.

Alia is a Seattle-raised, Oakland-based cultural worker, DJ, and community archivist, inspired by and belonging to a lineage of Palestinian and Arab women storytellers. She is interested in documenting the histories and contributions of West Asian and North African immigrant communities in the Bay Area. Alia's past audio work can be found in the Arab American National Museum, which houses her multimedia oral history archive of Dearborn, Michigan. In her free time, Alia enjoys hosting her monthly online radio show, Kan Ya Makan, on Moonglow Radio, and DJing various SWANA (Southwest Asian/North African) dance parties in the Bay Area.