Frequently Asked Questions
- What are Democracy Vouchers?
- Who can use them?
- How is the Democracy Voucher Program funded?
- How do I get them?
- When will I receive my Democracy Vouchers?
- Which candidates can receive Democracy Vouchers?
- Can I give all my Democracy Vouchers to one candidate?
- How do I return my Democracy Vouchers?
- Am I registered to vote?
- Do I have to be a registered voter to receive Democracy Vouchers?
- I do not want to use my vouchers. Can I give my Democracy Vouchers to someone else?
- What happens to the remaining Democracy Voucher funds if left unused?
- How do I know my Democracy Vouchers are going to my selected candidate?
- How will candidates spend my Democracy Vouchers?
- What if I lose my vouchers?
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.
In order to receive 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 receive Democracy Vouchers. If you meet all three criteria, you may apply to receive 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.
In November 2015, Seattle voters approved a property tax increase, amounting to a total of $3 million per year to fund the program for the next 10 years.
If you are a registered voter, you will automatically receive your Democracy Vouchers in the mail January 2017. If you are not a registered voter, you may apply to receive Democracy Vouchers by downloading the application. The application is available in 15 languages.
Democracy Vouchers will be mailed throughout the election year beginning January 3, 2017 to October 1, 2017.
All registered voters will automatically receive Democracy Vouchers by mail. To register to vote or update your voter registration, please visit King County Elections. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission will periodically mail Democracy Vouchers to newly registered voters.
If you are not eligible to vote, you may still be eligible to receive Democracy Vouchers. Learn more and apply here.
The list of eligible candidates can be found on the eligible candidates page. New candidates have from now until June 2, 2017 to qualify as a candidate. Please check the website often for the updated list of candidates.
Vouchers may be assigned to eligible candidates who participate in the Democracy Voucher Program. You can give eligible candidates one ($25), two ($50), three ($75), or all four ($100) of your 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 on the voucher to be processed.
You may view your voter registration status and/or update your mailing address by visiting King County Elections.
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.
If there are remaining funds from unused Democracy Vouchers, the funds will carry over to the next election cycle.
To ensure that vouchers are assigned to the correct candidates, the Seatthe Ethics and Elections Commission will publish a list of candidates who received vouchers and the names of people who assigned them vouchers on this website. All voucher assignments are public information.
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.
If your Democracy Vouchers are lost, please call (206) 727-8855 or e-mail email@example.com to request replacement vouchers.