What are Democracy Vouchers?
In November 2015, Seattle voters passed a citizen-led initiative known as “Honest Elections Seattle” (I-122). I-122 enacted several campaign finance reforms that changed the way campaigns are typically financed for Seattle candidates. One major reform allows the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission to distribute “Democracy Vouchers” to eligible Seattle residents.
Eligible Seattle residents will receive four $25 vouchers they can use to support the candidate(s) of their choice running for Seattle City Council or City Attorney.
How do I get my Democracy Vouchers?
If you are a registered voter in the City of Seattle, you will automatically receive your Democracy Vouchers by mail after January 3, 2017. If you are a lawful permanent resident or are not registered to vote, but live in the City of Seattle, you must apply online to participate in the Democracy Voucher program.
How do I give my Democracy Vouchers to a candidate of my choice?
Assigning your Democracy Voucher to a candidate is the same as donating to a campaign. Candidates who are eligible to receive Democracy Vouchers must follow strict ethics and reporting guidelines to qualify for the program. Residents assign their Democracy Vouchers to candidates by writing on their voucher the eligible candidate’s name, date the voucher was assigned, and resident’s signature on each voucher. Vouchers may be redeemed anytime between January 3, 2017 and November 30, 2017.
You can return your Democracy Vouchers by:
- Giving your vouchers directly to the qualified candidate’s campaign.
- Mail your vouchers to Democracy Voucher Program, PO Box 35196, Seattle, WA 98124.
- Find your local drop-off location or electronic return method online.
How do I get my Democracy Vouchers replaced if I lose them?
If your Democracy Vouchers are lost or damaged, please email email@example.com or call the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission at 206-727-8855 to request replacement vouchers.
How is the Democracy Voucher program funded?
The Democracy Voucher program is funded by a $3 million property tax levy – the smallest levy in city history. For the owner of a $400,000 home, Honest Elections Seattle will cost only 85 cents a month.
Do I have to be a registered voter or U.S. citizen to participate in the Democracy Voucher program?
If you are a registered voter, you will automatically receive your Democracy Vouchers by mail after January 3, 2017. If you are not a registered voter or a U.S. citizen, you may still be eligible to participate in the Democracy Voucher program if you meet the following requirements:
- A Seattle resident,
- At least 18 years of age, and
- A U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident (“green card holder”)
If you meet the requirements above, you can apply for to participate in the Democracy Voucher program on the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission website.
What else does Initiative 122 accomplish?
- Bans campaign contributions from corporations and industries that spend significant funds lobbying the city and corporations with large city contracts.
- Lowers contribution limits in all city races.
- Increased fines and penalties for election law violations.
- Tightens campaign reporting deadlines and increases transparency.
- Requires signature gatherers to disclose if they are being paid.
- Closes the “revolving door” of top officials becoming lobbyists after leaving office.
- An innovative public finance program that will give voters four $25 “Democracy Vouchers” to donate to the qualified candidates of their choice, encouraging political participation by a broader set of Seattleites and allowing candidates to finance their campaigns with small donations instead of relying on the city’s wealthiest people and special interests.
- Spending caps for candidates that participate in the public finance program.
Find out more information on the Democracy Voucher program by visiting the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission website.