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Democracy vouchers: Seattle voters will soon have $100 sitting in their mailbox

The city of Seattle is giving you money to support your favorite candidate for mayor, city attorney or a citywide city council seat.

SEATTLE — Editor’s note: The video above was originally published in April 2019.

Keep an eye on your mailbox, Seattle voters. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) began mailing out democracy vouchers to eligible voters last week.

Seattle voters approved a $3 million per year property tax in 2015; in exchange, each eligible resident receives four $25 vouchers that they can donate to participating candidates in city elections. The democracy voucher program costs the average homeowner about $8 a year, according to the city.

In 2021, candidates running for Seattle mayor, two citywide city council positions and the city attorney are eligible for the funding. Not all candidates have to participate in the program.

Voters or residents who applied for the program can submit their vouchers through an online portal or return them directly to the SEEC using the included pre-paid envelope. All four vouchers can be assigned to one eligible candidate, or they can be divided between several candidates.

The city said a total of $6.8 million is available this year through the program for candidates to fund their campaigns. 

This year, democracy vouchers can be assigned to candidates between Feb. 9 and Nov. 30. You don’t have to submit all of your vouchers at once, but candidates can only receive a limited number of total vouchers.

Democracy voucher contributions are public information, which means your name and candidate selections are reported on the program’s data page.

Candidates in the democracy voucher program are subject to contribution limits from individual donors. City attorney and city council candidates are limited to $300 from individual donors, not including the possible $100 in democracy vouchers. Mayoral candidates are limited to $550 from individual donors, including the possible $100 in democracy vouchers.

Any candidate not participating in the program has a contribution limit of $550 from an individual donor.