Information for Seattle Residents

What are Democracy Vouchers?

Democracy Vouchers are certificates that Seattle residents can give to participating candidates to help support their campaigns. 

When is the next City of Seattle election?

The next City of Seattle election is in 2023.

Which positions are eligible for Democracy Voucher funding in 2023?

In 2023, the seven city council district seats will be on the ballot. Find the list of participating candidates.

Can I contribute my Democracy Voucher towards a ballot initiative, referendum, or recall campaign?

No, Democracy Vouchers can only be donated to participating candidates running for City of Seattle office. 

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.

What if I am registered to vote in another County?

If you are registered to vote outside the City of Seattle you are not eligible for Democracy Vouchers. If you consider yourself a Seattle resident, you will need to update your voter registration with King County Elections.

You may not apply for Democracy Vouchers if you are registered in another County. 

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.

How is the Democracy Voucher Program funded?

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

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

Yes. You may register at a location where you spend a substantial part of your time or pick up mail. This could be a previously permanent address, shelter, or similar place. If you have additional questions about your situation, please contact the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission by calling (206) 727-8855 or emailing

Can I give my Democracy Voucher to any candidate?

Your Democracy Vouchers can be given to any participating candidate.

Can I give all my Democracy Vouchers to one candidate?

You can choose to give all your vouchers to one candidate or split your vouchers to multiple candidates. You may choose to use a few vouchers now and a few later. But don't wait too long because candidates can only accept a limited number of 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 many designated locations. Learn about all the options for returning your Democracy Vouchers. 

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

When should I use my Democracy Vouchers?

Your vouchers are good from the time you receive them through November 30, 2023. You can use your vouchers all at once or over the course of the year. 

Here are a few things to watch for that may affect when you choose to use them:

1. Candidates have until early June 2023 to decide to participate in the Democracy Voucher Program.

2. Candidates have spending limits that determine how many vouchers they can redeem.

3. This is not the same as voting. Your candidate needs the funds to run a competitive campaign well before election day.

What does a candidate have to do to "qualify" for the Democracy Voucher Program?

Candidates must complete a "qualifying process" by collecting a certain number of qualifying signatures and minimum $10 qualifying contributions from Seattle residents. Learn more about how to qualify on the candidate FAQs page.

If I assign my vouchers to a candidate who does not complete the qualifying process or withdraws their campaign, what happens to my voucher?

Once a Democracy Voucher is returned to our office, there are no do-overs. If your candidate does not qualify for the program or withdraws from the program, the money from the Democracy Vouchers will roll over to the next election cycle to fund future races.

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. 

Spending Limits for Participating Candidates City Attorney City Council
City Council
Campaign Spending Limits (Primary Election Only) $187,500 $187,500 $93,750 $400,000
Combined Campaign Spending Limits for Primary and General Election $375,000 $375,000 $187,500 $800,000

The spending limits include any Democracy Vouchers they redeem and any cash/check donations a candidate collects. 

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. The funds do not roll over to the general fund. 

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

Candidates in the program are subject to contribution limits of $300 from individual donors when running for city attorney or city council (not including $100 in Democracy Vouchers).

Participating mayoral candidates are subject to contribution limits of $550 (including $100 in Democracy Vouchers).

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.

Are Democracy Vouchers public information?

Yes, as with all donations to candidate campaigns, voucher assignments are public information. This means your name (and possibly your address), who you contributed to, and the amount will be posted on the internet. 

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.