As the New Year arrives, one new law of interest is the Seattle’s “democracy voucher” program.
This week, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission will mail each registered voter in the city four $25 democracy vouchers. The program is taxpayer funded. The vouchers may be used to fund candidates of the voter’s choosing
Seattle voters approved the program in 2015 through Initiative 122 and funded the program through a 10-year, $30 million dollar property tax levy.
The measure was nicknamed the “Honest Elections” initiative.
Any person not registered to vote may still qualify to receive the vouchers so long as they reside in Seattle, are 18 years of age, and are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or possess a valid green card.
To participate in the program, a voter will assign the voucher to a valid candidate, and mail it to the Ethics and Election Commission which will administer the program.
To receive money from the vouchers, a candidate must apply and qualify for the program by agreeing to certain guidelines including lower campaign contributions and spending limitations, and agreeing to a certain number of debates.
Mark Quiner is the director of NCSL's Center for Ethics in Government.