Seattle voters will soon get $100 in ‘democracy vouchers’ to donate to candidates


Yes, Seattle voters approved this: Taking money from private property owners to redistribute to the candidate(s) of their choice. How progressive

From the Seattle Times: Seattle voters will receive “democracy vouchers” for the first time next week. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission plans to mail the taxpayer-funded campaign-contribution vouchers on Tuesday to every registered voter in the city.

Each voter will get four $25 vouchers to distribute among candidates in 2017. The City Council’s two citywide seats and the City Attorney’s Office are up for election. The vouchers will be part of mayoral races starting in 2021 but won’t be allocated to candidates as Ed Murray seeks re-election next year. Mayoral races are the city’s most expensive and the wait will allow the voucher program more time to accumulate funds.

Seattle voters ensured the city would be the first in the country with democracy vouchers when they approved Initiative 122 in 2015. The “Honest Elections” measure authorized a 10-year, $30 million property-tax levy to pay for the program.

People not registered to vote can obtain vouchers as long as they live in Seattle, are at least 18 years old and are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or green-card holder. The voucher-program application for nonvoters is available in 15 languages.

People participating in the program will sign the vouchers, assign them to candidates and mail them back to the elections commission. When given vouchers, candidates will relay them to the commission.

The commission, which is mailing out postage-paid return envelopes along with the vouchers, will verify them before releasing the money they represent to the candidates. Each voucher will have a unique identification number and bar code.

Only candidates who apply to and qualify for the program will be allowed to receive money from vouchers. To qualify, they’ll need to drum up a baseline number of campaign contributions, take part in multiple public debates, adhere to lower campaign contribution limits and agree to special campaign spending caps.

People with vouchers will be able to look up which candidates have qualified for the program by visiting the city’s website. Thus far, City Council candidate Jon Grant and incumbent City Attorney Pete Holmes have qualified.

The commission will publish a list of the candidates who have received money from vouchers along with names of the people who assigned the vouchers. In other words: If you assign a voucher, your support for a candidate will become public information.

The levy paying for the program will raise $3 million per year — not nearly enough to pay for every voter’s four vouchers. That sum would be about $50 million. But the campaign spending caps ($300,000 for citywide City Council candidates, for example) should work to limit the number of vouchers that will need to be paid out.

Wayne Barnett, executive director of the elections commission, said one aim of the program is to get more people involved in the electoral process. People who contribute to campaigns are later on more likely to volunteer and more likely to vote, Barnett said. “We know that only 1 to 2 percent of people in Seattle ever make a contribution to a candidate for city office,” he said. “So ideally this will get more people engaged.”

Another aim of the vouchers is to level the playing field for grass-roots candidates “who otherwise would in no way be able to raise $150,000,” Barnett said.

Opponents of I-122 said the voucher program would be complicated to supervise. They said the city would spend $28 of every $100 on administrative costs. The commission has the program under control, Barnett said. To run it, he hired René LeBeau, who previously helped King County Elections move to voting by mail.

I-122 opponents also warned about shenanigans and predicted the program would mostly benefit membership groups able to drive many vouchers to certain candidates.

Barnett has asked the state Public Disclosure Commission for advice on the program and Washington’s ban on bundling but has not yet heard back, he said. Bundling is when an individual or intermediary group collects many contributions on behalf of a candidate.

I-122 proponents said the bundling rules that apply to regular contributions would similarly apply to vouchers.

Proponent Aaron Ostrom, executive director of the progressive activist organization Fuse Washington, hailed the program’s launch. “This is an exciting chance to strengthen democracy and level the playing field in Seattle,“ Ostrom said. ”Candidates can compete based on their values and leadership abilities rather than their connections to wealthy friends and corporate donors.”


11 responses to “Seattle voters will soon get $100 in ‘democracy vouchers’ to donate to candidates

  1. Who watches the watchers? What guarantee is there that the “elections board” will actually distribute the monies in accordance to the “donors wishes?” Just another Progressive boondoggle, plain and simple. The sad thing is then other cities look at this, and then they decide they want to institute this program also. I tend to not trust any program that is sponsored by liberals, because somehow “they feel they are going to benefit from it!”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Whoa! Let me get my 7% rum & cola and think about this genius proposal, now about to become a functioning dysfunction by my lights.

    I was raised in Bellevue WA starting at age 15 in 1958. This has got to be the most ill-considered legislative crapola ever, IMO of course. How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways:

    Isn’t the initial amount –given that this is ‘an experiment in democracy’ [sarc] rather overly generous? If we are going to beggar ourselves via our ‘representatives’ couldn’t we start out with $1.00, as we do in Canada? That’s correct: every person who files an income tax return w/Revenue Canada has C$1.00 contributed to a national pot which is divided amongst the candidates.

    Liked by 2 people

    • But…but..You don’t understand! They are only redistributing the money from evil property owners, not honest Proletarian workers, peasants, & students.
      Also 28% is taken by the city to make sure that any Candidates receiving voucher money comply with all rules of the Peoples Liberation Front.
      The “Good Pols” will trade joints to these ‘Voters’ & others that apply for these ‘Gift Cards to Commies’ for their $18 ($25 minus the 28% Admin fee) Voucher.
      See! Everybody wins, but the Oppressor Property Owner Capitalist Pigs! Up the Revolution!!
      (puff, wheeze) This is REALLY good shit, man!

      Liked by 3 people

    • Joseph . . . that sounds like a much better idea than one hundred dollars per citizen. It is so disquieting to see that Seattle comes out with one after another program to pick the pockets of it’s citizens, and somehow enrich the Progressive movement.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Right on, Auntie Lulu! This may sound “democratic” but is actually another Marxist Boondoggle to use money extorted from Property Owners by the armed might of local govt and the courts, to redistribute to the “Proletariat”, but they can only give the “money-vouchers” to the Politicians?
    What a scam!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. They wanted to do that here in SD too, but we voted it down. If a person/politician wants the position hard enough, they need to go out and prove themselves to the people!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. When did califailure annex Washington state?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Lol, I am pretty dang sure this is illegal on many fronts. And does anyone think for a minute the Republican votes will get sent to the proper candidate?
    And what about taking money unwillingly from Republican homeowners and giving to those they oppose? And to make a very private thing and make it public is also illegal.
    Yep, this should be very interesting. I am seeing lawsuits in the horizon.
    Pass the popcorn and milk duds please.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The money would be better spent giving mental health treatments to Demoncrats!

    Liked by 1 person

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