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Democracy Vouchers

The Democracy Voucher Program launched on February 12th, 2019!

What are Democracy Vouchers?

The goal of the Democracy Voucher Program is to help democratize political giving in Seattle by diversifying the donor pool to better reflect Seattle residents. The program was one of several campaign finance reforms enacted after the Honest Elections Seattle Initiative (I-122) was passed in November 2015. The program is shown to dramatically increase political giving by young people and low-income people. The Democracy Vouchers Program is administered by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, a nonpartisan and independent commission.

Democracy Vouchers, sample voucher

Democracy Vouchers are certificates valued at $25 each that can be used to contribute to the campaigns of participating candidates running for Seattle City Council, City Attorney, or Mayor. In the upcoming Seattle City Council election there are seven city council district races eligible for campaign funding through the Democracy Voucher Program.

Am I eligible to receive Democracy Vouchers?

You are eligible to receive vouchers if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are a Seattle resident,
  • Are at least 18 years of age, AND
  • Are a US citizen, US national, or lawful permanent resident
Where can I find my Democracy Vouchers?

→ If you are already registered to vote, you will receive your Democracy Vouchers in the mail. Make sure your mailing address is up to date by checking online.

→ If you meet the eligibility requirements and you are NOT a registered voter, complete this application as soon as possible to get your Democracy Vouchers. You can request to have your vouchers printed in your preferred language, just call 206-727-8855 or email democracyvoucher@seattle.gov.

→ If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, check online. NOTE: You may only register to vote if you are a citizen of the US, a legal resident of WA State, AND at least 18 years old by election day.

How do I use my Democracy Vouchers?

See the complete list of all participating candidates in 2019. Candidates have until May 31, 2019 to decide if they will participate in the Democracy Voucher Program. Candidates running for a city council district position must collect at least 150 qualifying contributions and signatures from Seattle residents. Seventy-five contributions and signatures must come from within the candidate’s district. Find more information on how to qualify as a candidate in 2019.

Your vouchers are valid until November 29, 2019. You can find your Seattle City Council district and your current council member here. Note that you can give your vouchers to candidates outside of your district. Use the pre-paid envelope that came with your voucher and drop it in the mail.

Democracy Vouchers assigned to you cannot be shared, sold, gifted or bought. They have no cash value. Using your Democracy Vouchers is not the same as voting. As with all donations to candidate campaigns, your voucher assignment will be public information.

What can a candidate buy using my Democracy Vouchers?

Democracy Voucher funds can be used for allowable campaign expenses. Candidates are held to all existing campaign spending laws, which prevent them from spending campaign funds on: making cash payments, paying the candidate a salary, supporting the candidate in a campaign for a different office, making contributions to other candidates or PACs, making payments to family members and more.

Are there limits to how many Democracy Vouchers one candidate can receive?

Yes, based on the type of election and the position the candidate is running for, participating candidates have contribution limits ranging from $75,000 to $800,000. Find the complete list of spending limits distributed by the City of Seattle.

How is the Democracy Voucher Program funded?

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission has budgeted $4.2 million in Democracy Voucher funding for candidates in 2019. The Democracy Voucher Program is funded by a Seattle property tax approved in 2015 for 10 years. The City of Seattle says that the program costs the average homeowner around $8.00 per year.

Lost your Democracy Vouchers?

Check out the City of Seattle’s Democracy Voucher Replacement Guide.

Where can I learn more?

Find more information pertaining to the Democracy Vouchers program and materials available in 15 languages at Seattle.gov.

Interested in hearing how Democracy Vouchers affect candidates? Ask your candidate directly or read about one perspective here.