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Lawsuit: Seattle democracy vouchers violate First Amendment

A new lawsuit is challenging Seattle’s first-in-the-nation voucher system.

Under the program, Seattle voters in 2015 decided to tax themselves $3 million a year in exchange for a $100 in vouchers that they can sign over to candidates.

The cost of the system is estimated to be about $11 and 50-cents per homeowner each year. A federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday by the Pacific Legal Foundation says it forces people to pay taxes to support candidates they don’t necessarily agree with.

“Part of human dignity is controlling what we believe,” said Ethan Blevins, Attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation. “So when we are forced to support values that grade against our own sense of right or wrong that strikes at the core of who we are. That’s what the First Amendment seeks to protect.”

They call it a violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees not just right to speak freely but not speak. They feel that forcing homeowners to pay for these political donations is forcing them to speak politically with their money.

Supporters say it’s a novel way to counter the effect of big money in politics and gives lesser-known candidates a chance to be heard.

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