Tech Community Letter to Gov. Cuomo in Support of Fair Elections

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Dear Governor Cuomo:

It's time for a change in how elections are financed in NY State.

We, the undersigned, are makers and users of the Internet and related connection technologies who are proud to live and work in New York State. Together we represent a growing industry that is creating thousands of new jobs and enabling all kinds of different and better way of getting things done. And we think that the open and diverse culture of the web that can help fix politics in New York.

All around us, we see the flowering of diverse, distributed networks of large numbers of people who are coming together to identify common concerns and act in concert. On crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter, thousands of New Yorkers are financing each other's creative businesses and projects, pooling small donations to fund big dreams. On code-sharing platforms engineers are helping each other by sharing and improving open-source software tools. Data-sharing by members of the public and public entities like city governments are enabling all kinds of new apps that are making life better for all New Yorkers.

It is time to bring this same way of doing things to campaign finance in NY State, and create a national model that will strengthen small-d democracy.

We are writing to urge your continued active leadership in this effort.

Today, elections in Albany are dominated by a small group of affluent campaign donors, professional influence-peddlers and deep-pocketed vested special interests. More often than not, big money gets its way, and ordinary people feel locked out. This system is very good at protecting incumbents from challenge, whether it's office-holders themselves or declining industries that use government to protect themselves from competition. It's no surprise that public confidence in Albany is broken, as it is all across America.

We believe that we can breathe new life in our democracy by making the voices and concerns of small donors count more. Such a paradigm, already in place in New York City and in several states, would encourage candidates to rely on everyday voters for their campaign funds, instead of spending extensive energy and precious time courting the affluent and special interests. Such a system of small donor-driven campaign finance reform would broaden civic participation, invite citizens back into our democracy and strengthen the ties between officeholders and their constituents. Importantly, it would send a signal that New Yorkers could trust that their election officials were working for them.

Sincerely,

Albert Wenger, Union Square Ventures
Andrew Hoppin, Board of Directors, OpenPlans
Andrew McLaughlin, Entrepreneur in Residence Betaworks
Andrew Rasiej, Personal Democracy Media
Andy Weissman, Union Square Ventures
Anil Dash, CEO/Cofounder, ThinkUp
Beth Noveck, Professor, NYU Graduate School of Public Service & New York Law
Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures
Clay Shirky, Author/Professor, NYU
David Pakman, Partner, Venrock
David Segal, Demand Progress
Dawn Barber, NY Tech Meetup
Deanna Zandt, Author & Media Technologist
Dennis Crowley, Founder, FourSquare
Esther Dyson, Founder, EDVentures
Evan Korth, Co-Founder, hackNY
Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures
Hillary Mason, chief scientist, bitly
Jalak Jobanputra, Managing Partner, FuturePerfect Ventures
John Borthwick, Founder, Betaworks
John Buttrick, Union Square Ventures
Kevin Ryan, CEO and Founder, Gilt Groupe
Laurel Touby, Founder, mediabistro.com
Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School
Micah Sifry, Personal Democracy Media
Nate Westheimer, Executive Director, NY Tech Meetup
Rachel Sklar, Founder, Change the Ratio
Rick Heitzmann, Founder and Managing Director, First Mark Capital
Roger Ehrenberg, Managing Partner, IA Ventures
Scott Heiferman, Founder, Meetup.com & Founder, NY Tech Meetup
Susan Crawford, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School
Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School
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