Archive 2008 - 2019

Question 5 Results

by Dianna Vosburg

Because Question 5 was not a state-wide ballot question (it was by state congressional district), it was a new question to many, but still passed by a large margin

The question was a non-binding referendum:

“Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirming that 1) rights protected under the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only and 2) both Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and political spending?”

In Holliston, Question 5 received 3,697 yes votes to 1,278 no votes, for a 74.31% approval rate. That’s as much of an agreement as one could expect in our divided, hyper-partisan political landscape. This question appeared in 17 other congressional districts across the state, and it passed overwhelmingly in each district. The yes votes ranged from 68% to 77% of total votes on this question.

More Holliston voters actually voted yes for Question 5 than voted yes for Charlie Baker (3,697 for Question 5, and 3,300 for Baker), yet Charlie Baker won over his Democratic challenger, Martha Coakley. I found the paradox quite interesting, because while both Baker and Coakley received campaign contributions from Super PACs and dark (donor-shielded by nonprofit groups) money, Charlie Baker received twice as much outside money overall. This disparity in outside spending and its effect on races played out all over the country on November 4th. For example, The Center for Responsive Politics reports that, for the 2014 midterms, the candidates who were able to spend the most money won 94.2% of the time for the House, and 81.8% of the time for the Senate. Outside money spent more on campaigns than the campaigns themselves in many instances, and bigger donations came from fewer donors. We are seeing elections decided by billionaire tycoons and corporate interests. Union contributions are a small proportion of campaign spending; business interest spending dominates over union spending about 15:1 overall.

For me, this shows that money, especially outside money, is very effective in races, even if people know that the way we finance campaigns in this country is fundamentally corrupting. These big donors will be expecting their payback in legislative decisions, and I’m sure that we will see policy continuing to work almost entirely in favor of wealthy special interests. This is a significant danger in a world facing multiple, escalating threats like climate disruption and desperately in need of sane, long-term public policy.

Our movement is growing as more and more people perceive the threat to democracy and to our well-being that results from a corrupting system of campaign finance. Vermont and California have just become the first states to call for a constitutional convention under Article 5 to allow Congress to regulate campaign finance. Town-by-town, district-by-district, our movement is growing to restore representational democracy.

Please see for more information.