Seattle redistributes $230,000 of taxpayer money to political candidates in the name of “democracy”

seattle-democracy-voucher

Back in January I told you about a new taxpayer-mandated campaign donation scheme (as one commenter called it) that Seattle voters approved under the guise of democracy.

How Initiative 122 works:

“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. Each voter will get four $25 vouchers to distribute among candidates in 2017.”

To date, voters approved the sum of $230,000 to be taken from private property owners and redistributed to three candidates.

From MyNorthwest.com: With two months remaining in the primary, Seattle’s one-of-a-kind experiment with publicly financed elections is off to a modest start with three candidates so far having cashed in a total of $230,000 in Democracy Vouchers.

County election records show at-large city council candidate Jon Grant leading the publicly financed candidates with $129,450 in vouchers cashed, followed by at-large council candidate Teresa Mosqueda with $61,225. City Attorney Pete Holmes, who is seeking re-election, has collected 1,597 vouchers for a total of $39,925.

Holmes, who has been city attorney since 2010, said the untested program’s newness meant a learning curve for both voters and candidates. “I was talking more about Democracy Vouchers in the first half of the campaign than I was about the campaign,” Holmes said. “We are the guinea pigs.”

Approved by city voters in 2015, the Democracy Voucher program sets aside a new pot of property tax money to give four, $25 campaign vouchers to the each of the city’s registered voters. Those voters, in turn, can pick which candidates or candidate get their vouchers taxpayer money. In exchange, participating candidates agree to spending caps.

The only program of its type in the country, the vouchers experiment was geared for three primary effects: Taking the big money out of local politics; improving voter participation rates; and bringing new candidates to the process.

So how is it doing? “It’s too early to gauge its success,” said Wayne Barnett (FYI: Barnett’s salary in 2016 was $151,919.81), the executive director of the Democracy Voucher program. “But I would say that so far, it’s working well.”

To date, Seattle residents have returned approximately 16,000 vouchers. But 6,000 of those have not been assigned to a candidate for reasons including that the candidate isn’t yet eligible or that the candidate isn’t running for office at this time. For the current election cycle, the vouchers are only allowed for the two at-large council seats and the city attorney race.

In exchange for public taxpayer money, candidates who opt-in must agree to specific spending and fundraising restrictions. To qualify for the vouchers, at-large council candidates first must gather 400 signatures with a $10 to $250 donation from each. For the city attorney race, each candidate must gather 150 signatures and accept similar donation restrictions.

Candidates also must agree to spend no more than $150,000 in the primary – which ends in August – and no more than $300,000 overall including the general election.

Holmes opponent, Scott Lindsay, is not participating in the voucher program. Lindsay, who is Mayor Ed Murray’s public safety advisor, has raised $27,735 so far, according to state records. But because he is not taking public money, he is not limited in his fundraising for either the primary or general election.

The voucher program started with the passage of Initiative 122, the “Honest Elections Seattle” measure approved by city voters two years ago.

The money linked to unassigned vouchers will remain in the election funds pool for the next election cycle when additional city council seats will be eligible (2019) and the mayor’s race (2021). The fund is expected to collect $3 million annually from the fee that adds, on average, an additional $11 to the taxes on each home.

Holmes said the program is a work in progress.“We’ll be talking to them about what can be improved,” he said. “The turn-around for the money is slow, for example.”

DCG

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8 responses to “Seattle redistributes $230,000 of taxpayer money to political candidates in the name of “democracy”

  1. Talk about Communism at its best! Here the politicians are FORCING home owners to support their campaigns whether they lake it or not. Politicians should have to get out and convince willing voters to donate to their campaigns. people with Green Cards are eligible to apply for vouchers???? I did not know that we allowed NON- citizens to vote yet they can TAKE tax money from tax payers and give it to a candidate of their choice????? Maybe it is time to give California back to Mexico!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Lenin kept calling it “democracy” too…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. it literally “pays” to run for office in seattle

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have no doubt that this boondoggle will bring about fair and honest elections. SARC

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Joseph Stalin is smiling up from Hell right now.
    I wish that those property owners would SUE them for this totally illegal robbery they are foisting on those who dare own property in Seattle. Absolute FILTHY DIRTY COMMIE PIGS! And, since the state ‘owns’ your property, if you refuse to pay, they’ll steal your house! And then you can become homeless and get all sorts of “Free” government programs and cost the state even more money than they gained when they taxed you and took your property.
    And people wonder why the government fails.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll gladly let them play their games with the local “voting”;They should be warned that since they’ve blatantly adopted a Communist-principled local Government,America must now consider them as “Hostile to America” and no longer allow them to vote in National Elections. This,too,might be worthy of a full investigation by the Dept. of Homeland Security,as a City in America going Communist could very well be a risk to American Security.

    Liked by 1 person

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