Our Democracy


Our democracy is built on the basic premise that people—regardless of gender, creed, geography, states, or religion—are politically equal. One person, one vote.

Special interest money has long had a corrosive effect on our politics, but in 2010, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision unleashed a new era of unprecedented spending by a handful of millionaires and corporations on our elections.

The decision  opened the floodgates for big money in our elections, enabling a small number of mega-donors to drown out the voices of average Americans. In the 2012 election the top 32 donors to Super PACs, giving an average of $9.9 million each, contributed as much as every small donor to Obama and Romney combined

Fortunately, Citizens United also sparked a movement across the country to reclaim our democracy and pass a constitutional amendment to limit big money in elections. In the meantime, we're also working on several short-term strategies to stanch the flow of big money in our elections.

  • Taking the fight directly to corporate political donors (and would-be donors): We’re partnering with shareholder advocacy groups in pressing corporations such as Target and Bank of America to refrain from spending on political campaigns.
  • Forcing political spending into the light of day: Our researchers have documented the rise of Super PACs and other groups funneling secret money into our elections, and we're also prodding our state and federal lawmakers to implement more thorough disclosure laws.
  • Amplifying the power of small donors: Encouraging millions of everyday Americans to small contributions can help counterbalance the influence of special interests in our elections. We are working to implement programs like tax credits, campaign vouchers, and matching public funds to create a swell of grassroots funding.

Campaign Updates

Report | Democracy

Million-Dollar Megaphones

Latest Numbers on Outside Spending, Secret Money and Super PAC Fundraising for 2012 

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Blog Post | Democracy

Volunteer: Register Voters at Concerts this Summer | Maryland PIRG Students

This summer we're running voter registration drives at concerts and music festivals across Maryland, and we'd love your help.

Let us know if you want to volunteer: sign up here.

We've teamed up with some great artists like My Morning Jacket, Phish, Wilco, Dave Mathews Band, Neko Case, The Roots, and more. It should be a ton of fun.

Maryland PIRGs' New Voters Project is a non-partisan campaign to mobilize young voters and turn them out to the polls.

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Saving Dollars, Saving Democracy - Cost Savings for Local Elections Officials Through Voter Registration Modernization

Millions are being wasted due to antiquated voter registration systems and procedures. U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s survey of 100 counties showed that over $33,467,910.00 of public money was spent on simple registration implementation and error-correction issues in 2008. The Fund finds that a more streamlined and automatic system linking existing databases with the state voter rolls could free up significant resources at the local level.

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Blog Post | Democracy, New Voters Project

City Council Election Tomorrow! | David Bransfield

Tomorrow is election day! Be sure to vote at City Hall across the street from Ledos and Follow the Vote Goat!

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Blog Post | Democracy, New Voters Project

Voter Registration for City Council Election

Voting is the ultimate form of participation in our democracy. We elect representatives to make laws that govern our local municipalities, states and nation. In College Park, our City Council election is November 8th and the students need to be heard! The City Council decides on laws that affect tenant-landlord relations, new residential and commercial development, and liquor licensing. We want to be sure and elect representatives that consider how issues affect students so be sure to register to vote at one of our TerpsVote tables M-F 10am-2pm in front of STAMP.

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