How to use those 'democracy vouchers' that just landed in your mailbox | KUOW News and Information

How to use those 'democracy vouchers' that just landed in your mailbox

Jan 4, 2017

If you live in Seattle, four democracy vouchers will soon arrive in the mail.

What to do with them? Ideally, you would be inspired by a political candidate and mail them your vouchers in lieu of actual cash.

That voucher will, eventually, be converted to real money for that candidate’s campaign. (Scroll down to the graphic to see what we mean.)

Not a registered voter or citizen? Not a problem. They can be used by any lawful, permanent resident 18 years or older.

Wayne Barnett, executive director of the Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission, says this allows people who aren’t registered voters to participate in democracy.

But not all candidates will be allowed to receive your voucher. They will have to participate in three debates and agree to lower contribution limits.

For someone running for Seattle City Council, that’s a $300,000 cap. (In contrast, Councilmember Kshama Sawant raised $161,023 in 2013; her opponent Richard Conlin raised $241,986.)

Candidates who drop out of the voucher program will have to return voucher money they received.

Before you recycle these four bits of paper in spring cleaning frenzy, consider that you voted to raise property taxes for this experiment, the first of its kind in the nation. It will cost $3 million a year for the next decade.

If your house is worth $530,900 (the median home in Seattle), that means you pay $10.30 a year.

Credit KUOW Illustration/Kara McDermott

Kara McDermott can be reached at kara@kuow.org. Have a story idea? Use our story pitch form.