LOCAL NEWS

First round of ‘democracy vouchers’ headed to Seattle voters

Dec 8, 2016, 12:22 PM
honest elections law...
Labor unions may have broken the Initiative 122 law in contributing to candidates in the 2017 election. (MyNorthwest)
(MyNorthwest)

For the first time, the City of Seattle is preparing to mail out “democracy vouchers” to registered voters.

Eligible voters will receive four, $25 vouchers that can be used to fund political candidates that opt into the public campaign finance program that was created after voters approved I-122 in 2015.

In January, each registered voter will be mailed four, $25 vouchers, totaling $100 to contribute toward campaigns of their choice. Seattle is the first city in the country to implement the so-called “democracy vouchers.”

Related: Kitsap County voters picked Dori over Mike Pence for president

The 2017 races eligible to accept such vouchers will be the two at-large council positions and the city attorney.

The money for these vouchers is raised through increased property taxes that have already been levied beginning this year. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, which is mailing out two million vouchers to voters on Jan. 3, estimates the tax costs $11.50 per year for the average homeowner.

Backers of the effort argue the program allows more people to become involved in politics. It helps level the playing field through a publicly funded system that hopes to decrease the role of big money in local politics. And it will allow more people to throw their weight behind the candidates they support, even if they don’t have much money.

“The reason that young people are excited about Initiative 122 is that it is really moving to put the power of politics back into the hands of common people,” Sonny Nguyen, engagement coordinator for a group specializing in young voters and support for I-122, told KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz in November 2015.

Critics argue that there are potential flaws. For example, the program is voluntary. That means candidates that don’t participate can raise as much money as they want; those who do participate can only accept limited donations and block contributions from special interest groups that do more than $250,000 worth of work for the city.

“By steering hundreds of thousands of dollars to favored candidates, special interests will have even more influence over politicians than they already do,” former Seattle Ethics and Elections chairperson Michele Radosevich said in 2015.

Washington state rejected similar measure

Washington voters rejected a similar measure this year that would have created a publicly funded voucher system.

Initiative 1464’s voucher system would have given voters three $50 “democracy credits” that they could use in state races every two years. To pay for the statewide system, the measure would have repealed the non-resident sales tax exemption for residents of sales-tax-free states like Oregon and Montana who shop in Washington.

About 53 percent of voters rejected the measure.

What you need to know about democracy vouchers

• A person can use all four vouchers on one candidate or split the vouchers up to use on different campaigns.

• Candidates who accept vouchers will be required to cap campaign spending. The caps are different for each race. For the at-large council position, for example, one would be limited to spending $150,000 in a primary and $300,000 in total.

• Anyone who wants to accept vouchers would first need to get a certain number of signatures, and the candidate must disclose if the signature gatherers are paid. Each signature needs to be accompanied by a minimum $10 donation.

• The initiative limits contributions from organizations or companies that have big contracts with the city. Those who hire lobbyists will also be limited in contributions.

• Any legal resident of Seattle can obtain and use vouchers, even if he or she is not a registered voter. Only registered voters will receive the vouchers automatically in the mail, however, so those who are 18 or older and not registered to vote can request them from the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

• A voucher holder can write the name of the candidate he or she supports, sign it, and give the voucher to that candidate directly. One can also give the voucher to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

• The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission will verify all signatures and assign each voter a special PIN, to be able to track vouchers.

• People can receive vouchers every two years for city elections.

Local News

hazard pay...
Dalton Day

With divisive vote, Seattle council upholds grocery worker hazard pay ordinance

Reversing its position in December, Seattle council has upheld the city's $4 an hour hazard pay requirement for grocery workers.
21 hours ago
Ballot drop box King County, elections even year...
Nick Bowman

State lawmaker: Bill moving Washington elections to even years is a ‘common sense’ shift

A newly-proposed bill in the state Legislature would seek to move most of Washington's statewide and local elections to even years. 
21 hours ago
Paine Field...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Fog and 5G cancel air travel at Paine Field

Alaska Airlines canceled all flights in and out of Paine Field on Monday amid foggy weather and concerns about 5G.
21 hours ago
Starbucks...
Dalton Day

Trio of Seattle Starbucks locations now pushing to unionize, claim company is ‘stalling’

With three Seattle Starbucks locations attempting to unionize, Councilmember Sawant introduces a resolution to simplify the organizing process.
21 hours ago
Olympia high school...
Nicole Jennings

Dad presses district for solutions after racist incident at Olympia high school

In the days since a racist video taken at a basketball game circulated, parents and students are demanding change in the Olympia School District.
21 hours ago
Sea lions...
MyNorthwest Staff

Group of sea lions overtakes privately-owned Ballard dock

A privately-owned dock in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood is now home at least 20 sea lions who moved in over the weekend.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
First round of ‘democracy vouchers’ headed to Seattle voters