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Seattle begins mailing out democracy vouchers, as election season kicks off

A Seattle democracy voucher. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Seattle’s Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) has officially begun mailing democracy vouchers out to eligible voters, marking the start of 2021’s election season.

The democracy voucher program was approved in 2015, and is funded through 2025 by a $3-million-a-year property tax, costing the average homeowner roughly $8 annually.

Each eligible resident in Seattle gets $100 worth of vouchers, divided into four individual $25 segments. Voters can choose to assign any number of their four vouchers to eligible candidates by filling them out and mailing them back to the SEEC. Each person’s four vouchers can be sent in together or in pieces throughout the year.

Washington State Supreme Court upholds Seattle Democracy Vouchers

All contributions made in the form of democracy vouchers are public information, meaning your name and the candidate you gave your voucher to will be published on the program’s data page at this link.

A candidate opting to use democracy vouchers is limited to $75,000 in campaign contributions during the primaries. If a candidate not using vouchers gets over $75,000 in donations, though, a voucher candidate can petition the SEEC to remove their own contribution cap, similar to what some Seattle City Council candidates ended up doing during the 2019 campaign season.

As of publishing, there are 17 combined candidates who have registered with the SEEC to run for office in 2021. That includes eight candidates for mayor, five for one of the city’s council’s two at-large positions (soon to be vacated by Lorena Gonzalez who is pursuing a run for mayor), and one candidate — incumbent Teresa Mosqueda — for the other at-large position.

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