Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"Seattle leads the nation, first on $15 an hour and now on campaign-finance reform," said a campaign spokesperson on Tuesday night. (Photo: Howard Ignatius/flickr/cc)

Seattle Voters Approve First-in-the-Nation 'Democracy Vouchers'

'We look forward to seeing more cities and states implementing their own local solutions to the problem of big money in politics,' says campaign spokesperson

Deirdre Fulton

Voters in Seattle, Washington on Tuesday approved a first-in-the-nation "democracy voucher" ballot initiative that could serve as a national model on campaign finance reform.

Initiative 122 (I-122), which was endorsed by nearly every Seattle City Council candidate and enjoyed the support of dozens of local and national progressive groups, passed 60-40, according to the King County Elections Office.

Supporters say the innovative public campaign financing program could give everyday voters more control over the city's elections while limiting the power of corporate and special interests.

The initiative states that for each city election cycle, or every two years, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) will mail four $25 vouchers to each voter. They can only be used in Seattle campaigns for mayor, city council and city attorney. The SEEC will release money to the candidates that agree to follow I-122's rules, which include participating in three debates and accepting lower contribution and spending limits.

The measure also prohibits elected officials and their high-level staff from lobbying the city government within three years of leaving office and enacts limits on campaign contributions from people or entities that have contracts with the city.

Last year, Seattle's City Council passed a historic measure establishing a $15 minimum wage.

"Seattle leads the nation, first on $15 an hour and now on campaign-finance reform. We look forward to seeing more cities and states implementing their own local solutions to the problem of big money in politics," said Heather Weiner, a campaign spokesperson, on Tuesday night.

Ahead of the vote, Honest Elections executive committee member Estevan Muñoz-Howard described the initiative as "our best chance at reducing the role of money in Seattle politics. We already have some of the most expensive city council races in the country, which are funded by less than one percent of our city’s population. This initiative will amplify the voices of regular people and reduce the role that wealthy donors and paid lobbyists play in setting our city's priorities."

And on Monday, Campaign for America's Future blogger Terrance Heath speculated about what a 'Yes' vote could mean: "Will Seattle’s Democracy Vouchers catch on? If I–122 passes on Tuesday, the idea could spread to other cities, giving state and local governments important tools to limit the influence of big money in a post-Citizens United world," he wrote. "If Seattle shows the way, changing local politics may prove the key to change on the national political scene."

Maine voters also approved a clean elections ballot initiative on Tuesday.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'S.O.S.!": Groups in Red States Nationwide Plead With Democrats to Pass Voting Rights Bill

"We can tell you firsthand that our Republican senators have no interest in joining this effort."

Jake Johnson ·


Revealed: US Public Pension Funds Are 'Quiet Culprits of Climate Chaos'

One activist called divestment "an ethical responsibility" given that "maintaining the status quo of fossil fuel energy production and investments will unquestionably lead to a self-created catastrophe."

Jessica Corbett ·


'It Is Urgent': Progressives Push for Bill to Expand and Improve Social Security

"It's time to cast a vote on behalf of all beneficiaries. Not with cuts, but with improvements to their lives."

Andrea Germanos ·


Top Democrat Says US Tax Havens 'A Stunning Indictment' of Policy Failures

"Do we want America to stand for fairness or to be just another spot for billionaires' buried treasure?" asked Rep. Bill Pascrell.

Kenny Stancil ·


As Putin Asserts Russia's Right to Defend Against NATO, US Urged to Avoid 'New Cold War'

While the Biden administration vows to "stand up for Ukraine," one expert implored U.S. leaders to "recognize our own provocations and aggressions" and to "make an effort to understand Russia."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo