Voters would give $50 credits to politicians if WA initiative passes | KUOW News and Information

Voters would give $50 credits to politicians if WA initiative passes

Aug 5, 2016

A new initiative about campaign finance reform has qualified for Washington's November ballot. The initiative aims to limit the amount of big money in politics.


Initiative 1464 would provide Washington voters with vouchers to donate to candidates. These are known as "democracy vouchers." Every registered voter would get three $50 credits to give to candidates of their choice.

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It would only apply to state legislature candidates who opt into the program.

Initiative campaign manager Peter McCollum says it could empower more candidates to run.

McCollum: "For candidates who haven't been successful before because they didn't have access to big money donors, and this would help address that and empower more candidates to run. 

"It would also help change how candidates run their races now. I think a lot of candidates would like to spend more time focusing on their constituents and less time on fundraising."

A similar idea was approved in Seattle in 2015, making it the first city in the nation to pass a democracy voucher program. It will be rolled out in 2017 or 2019.

Initiative 1464 would also limit how much lobbyists and public contractors could donate. Right now they can give up to $1,000 to state, county, or local candidates. That would be reduced to $100.

The measure would be paid for by requiring all visitors to pay Washington's sales tax – right now residents of Oregon and some other states can opt out of that tax.

The initiative's main backers include democratic politicians and Tea Party activists.