Frequently Asked Questions




What are Democracy Vouchers?

Democracy Vouchers are a new way for Seattle residents to get more involved in their city government. Eligible Seattle residents will receive four $25 paper certificates they can use to support a candidate running for Seattle City Council or City Attorney. The program will expand to include the Mayor's race in 2021.

When is the last day to request new or replacement Democracy Vouchers?

November 30, 2017 is the last day to request Democracy Vouchers for the 2017 election cycle and is also the last day to assign vouchers to a candidate. You must be able to receive, assign, and return your vouchers by the close of business December 1, 2017.

During the last two weeks of November, the SEEC recommends residents request to receive and return replacement vouchers by email, rather than by mail.

When is the last day to return Democracy Vouchers?

The SEEC will process all Democracy Vouchers received by 5pm on December 1, 2017. Democracy Vouchers received after the close of business on December 1 will not be processed.

Campaigns must also return all vouchers on or before December 1, 2017 by 5pm.

Can I assign my vouchers after election day? Even if the candidate does not win?

Yes, the SEEC will process all Democracy Vouchers received by 5pm on December 1, 2017.

What are the spending limits for candidates participating in the program?

Candidates participating in the Democracy Voucher Program must honor the following spending limits for each office. These limits include contributions from Democracy Vouchers and monetary contributions.

A candidate may be released from the spending limit by appealing to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. If released, the candidate will only receive Democracy Voucher dollars up to the spending limit but will then be able to collect monetary donations beyond that.

Spending Limits for Participating CandidatesCity AttorneyCity Council
At-large
City Council
District
Mayor
(2021)
Campaign Spending Limits (Primary Election Only) $75,000 $150,000 $75,000 $400,000
Combined Campaign Spending Limits for Primary and General Election $150,000 $300,000 $150,000 $800,000

Who can use Democracy Vouchers?

In order to use Democracy Vouchers, you must be:

  • A Seattle resident,
  • At least 18 years of age, and
  • A U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident ("green card holder")

You do not have to be a registered voter to use Democracy Vouchers. If you meet the criteria, you may apply for Democracy Vouchers.

Using a Democracy Voucher is just like making a contribution to a campaign. According to the Federal Elections Commission, individuals who are not U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or lawful permanent residents are prohibited from making campaign contributions and may not submit Democracy Vouchers to local campaigns.


How is the Democracy Voucher Program funded?

In November 2015, Seattle voters approved a property tax amounting to a total of $3 million per year to fund the program for the next 10 years.

What happens if I do not use my Democracy Vouchers?

If you do not use your Democracy Vouchers, the funds will carry over to the next election cycle to fund the program. The funds do not roll over to the general fund. The Democracy Voucher program will expand to include the Mayor's race in 2021.

If I assign my vouchers to a candidate who does not complete the qualifying process, what happens to the money?

The money from the Democracy Vouchers will roll over to the next election cycle to fund future races. The next election cycle begins in January 2018 for the 2019 election year. In the 2021 election cycle the program will expand to fund the mayor's race.


I lost my Democracy Vouchers. How do I request replacement Democracy Vouchers?

If you need replacement Democracy Vouchers, please complete the replacement request form. You may also call (206) 727-8855 or e-mail democracyvoucher@seattle.gov to request replacements. You will be asked to provide your name, date of birth, and mailing address. Please let us know if you would like PDF of your Democracy Vouchers e-mailed to you or a new set mailed to your address. 

If I do not have a permanent address, can I still participate?

Yes. You may register at an address where you spend a substantial part of your time or have some connection. This could be a previously permanent address, shelter, or similar place.

If you have additional questions about your unique situation, please contact the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission by calling (206) 727-8855 or e-mailing democracyvoucher@seattle.gov.


How do I get my Democracy Vouchers?

If you are a registered voter, you will automatically receive your Democracy Vouchers by mail.

If you are not a registered voter, you may be eligible apply to receive Democracy Vouchers by downloading the application. The application is available in 15 languages.


When will I receive my Democracy Vouchers?

Democracy Vouchers will be mailed throughout the election year beginning January 3, 2017 to October 1, 2017.

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission will periodically mail Democracy Vouchers to newly registered voters. Please expect up to four weeks to process.

To register to vote or update your voter registration, please visit King County Elections. 

If you are not eligible to vote, you may still be eligible to receive Democracy Vouchers. Learn more and apply here.


Which candidates can accept my Democracy Vouchers?

The list of eligible candidates can be found on the eligible candidates page.

What does a candidate have to do to "qualify" for the Democracy Voucher Program?
Candidates must "qualify" for the Democracy Voucher Program before they are able to redeem Democracy Vouchers to fund their campaigns. Candidates listed as "pending" are in the process of qualifying.

Candidates must complete a "qualifying process" by collecting a certain number of qualifying signatures and minimum $10 contributions from Seattle residents.City Council at-large candidates must collect at least 400 qualifying signatures and contributions and City Attorney candidates must collect at least 150 qualifying signatures and contributions to qualify. 

What is the maximum contribution I can make to a candidate?

The maximum contribution to a participating candidate is $250 plus $100 in Democracy Vouchers. For candidates not participating in the Democracy Voucher Program, the maximum contribution is $500.

If the participating candidate petitions for and is released from the contribution limit, they are then subject to the maximum $500 limit, including the value of any individual's redeemed Democracy Vouchers.

How do I know my Democracy Vouchers are going to my selected candidate?

All voucher assignments are public information. To ensure your vouchers are going to the candidate(s) you selected, visit the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission's program data page.



Can I give all my Democracy Vouchers to one candidate?

Vouchers may only be assigned to eligible candidates in the Democracy Voucher Program. You can give eligible candidates one ($25), two ($50), three ($75), or all four ($100) of your Democracy Vouchers.


How do I return my Democracy Vouchers?

Democracy Vouchers may be returned directly to a candidate's campaign, to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, or dropped-off at one of the designated locations.

View the full list of return methods and drop-off locations.

Vouchers must have your signature, date signed, and the candidate's name clearly written to be processed.


Am I registered to vote?

You may check your voter registration status and/or update your mailing address by visiting King County Elections


I do not want to use my vouchers. Can I give my Democracy Vouchers to someone else or to an organization to assign for me?

No, Democracy vouchers are assigned to you and only you.

Vouchers may not be sold, gifted, or bought. Democracy Vouchers have no cash value and are not assets.


How will my candidates spend my Democracy Vouchers? What are Democracy Vouchers prohibited from being used for?

Candidates using Democracy Vouchers for their campaign are held to all existing campaign spending laws. Voucher funds can be used for allowable campaign expenses e.g. paying for printing, advertisements, and office space.

Campaign funds may not be used to:

  • Make cash payments;
  • Reimburse contributors for their contributions;
  • Pay the candidate a salary, or pay the candidate's personal expenses;
  • Support the candidate in a campaign for a different office;
  • Make contributions to other candidates or political committees; or,
  • Make payments to family members.