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The City of Portland, Oregon

Open and Accountable Elections

Phone: 503-823-4345

Background on the Program

Open and Accountable Elections is a matching program that multiples small donations from Portland residents to ensure that all Portlanders matter in City elections. Similar powerful and proven programs have worked in 32 cities, states, and counties across the country, including San Francisco, New York City, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, Maine, and Maryland.

Here is how it works:

  • Candidates who want to participate agree to comply with program rules, such as not accepting large contributions, agreeing to a fundraising and spending limit.
  • Candidates prove they have broad community support and are willing to do the work to win a campaign by collecting lots of small qualifying contributions from Portlanders and filing for the ballot by collecting signatures.
  • Candidates who follow the rules and collect enough small contributions get the contributions they collect matched six-to-one from the City’s Open and Accountable Elections Fund, up to $50 per donor. This turns 500 contributions averaging $25 from $12,500 into $75,000, for example. 
  • Contributions continue to get matched as candidates continue to raise small contributions and follow program rules, up to the overall spending cap set by the program.

The Open and Accountable Elections program is designed to ensure that every Portlander’s participation in our democracy is important. Our government works best when every person is engaged in the elections process and can make a difference in the community. The program fosters an inclusive democratic process where everyone participates and everyone’s contributions matter.  A community where people from all walks of life can run for and win office, while avoiding concerns about the influence of large donations in City elections.   We’re strongest when our elected city leaders reflect the full range of talent and lived experience that Portland has to offer, and when the community trusts that elected leaders share the community’s values. People from every neighborhood in Portland should have meaningful opportunities to influence who is elected to City offices, and to run effective citywide campaigns.

The Open and Accountable Elections program provides public money to viable candidates who demonstrate significant support from Portlanders.  It reduces the perceived influence of big money from private major donors as a factor in winning City elections, while encouraging candidates and donors from all over Portland to participate in a truly open and accountable campaign financing system.