Seattle Issues $100 Vouchers for Political Donations

SEATTLE (CN) — Seattle voters are the first in the nation who can use taxpayer-funded $100 “democracy vouchers” to donate money to local candidates.

The money comes from campaign finance reform voter Initiative 122, approved in 2015 and known as “Honest Elections Seattle.”

The public funding will be paid for by a 10-year, $30 million property tax levy.

The vouchers were mailed last week to every registered Seattle voter and come as $25 certificates. Voters can give any or all vouchers to candidates running for Seattle City Council or city attorney. Public financing will be available for the mayor’s race in 2021.

“In the next few weeks, every registered voter and eligible resident in the city will receive $100 worth of Democracy Vouchers. That means more than 500,000 Seattleites — be they bank presidents or baristas — will have $100 to support the candidates of their choice,” said Keiko Budech, with the Sightline Institute, a promoter of I-122.

“Vouchers make just about everybody in town a political player, breaking the grip of big money and special interests on local races, and amplifying regular people’s voices in city decision-making.”

Candidates may not use the vouchers to make cash payments, reimburse contributors, pay the candidate a salary or personal expenses, make contributions to other candidates or political committees or make payments to family members, according to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

The vouchers can be used until Nov. 30.