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Seattle voters have $100 sitting in their mailboxes

Democracy vouchers have been mailed to voters for the 2019 Seattle City Council election.

Don't throw away your money. 

That's the message from the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, who mailed out democracy vouchers for the 2019 city council race this week. 

This time around, dozens of candidates running for the seven open council seats could be eligible for the voucher program. Candidates that make it through to the primary and onto general election will be allowed to accept more funds.

Registered Seattle voters received four $25 vouchers in the mail. If a voter doesn't use the vouchers on candidates, they'll lose them. 

This year, registered voters can submit their vouchers electronically. The Ethics and Elections Commission plans to launch an online portal next Friday.

Before this year, voters could only turn in their vouchers by handing them over to the campaigns directly, mailing in, or dropping off at designated locations.

The Ethics and Elections Commission, which runs the program, has $4.2 million set aside for 2019 council race. Wayne Barnett, executive director of the commission, believes that budget will be enough for all participating candidates. 

"$4.2 million would be if there were six candidates participating in each of the seven districts in the program, all raising money exclusively through the program. I do think it's unlikely that we're going to reach $4.2 million," Barnett said. 

By Barnett's math, the program would support 42 candidates in 2019. As of Friday, 41 candidates filed to run and just two had met the voucher qualifications. 

Candidates running in the last council election, Jon Grant and Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda were the only candidates to reach the financial cap. Grant and Mosqueda were two of five eligible candidates in the 2017 election. 

Incumbent candidate Kshama Sawant already announced she will not seek financial support through the voucher program. The Stranger reported her decision to avoid voucher support would help her fundraise past the program's cap and compete with opponents she feared would get funding from people with deep pockets interested in seeing her off the council. 

Voters approved a campaign finance initiative in 2015 to fund the voucher program through a property tax increase -- an estimated $11.50 per year for the average homeowner, according to the city.