RADICALLY ALTERS CURRENT ELECTION LAW

Initiative 122 radically rewrites Seattle’s election laws by increasing property taxes to create a system where registered voters receive four $25 “democracy vouchers” that they can then donate to candidates running for office. All voters support honest elections, but this measure creates a complicated and untested system that is ripe for abuse by special interests and will lead to a host of unintended consequences.

FILLED WITH LOOPHOLES

I-122 supposedly includes campaign spending limits, but the initiative is so poorly written that the limits it has are toothless. A candidate can raise the full amount of vouchers and then ignore the spending limits if an independent expenditure campaign enters the race against them. This means candidates can double dip – taking the full amount of taxpayer-funded vouchers while ALSO raising unlimited additional campaign cash.

INCREASES DARK MONEY IN OUR POLITICS

If I-122 passes, it will push a lot of money currently contributed transparently within the existing campaign finance system into less transparent and less accountable special interest independent expenditures, which I-122 does nothing to limit or reform.

ONLY A FRACTION OF VOTERS CAN REDEEM THEIR VOUCHERS

There are currently 415,000 registered voters in the city of Seattle. If every voter receives $100 in vouchers, that means $41.5 million will be issued. However, I-122 funds less than $3 million in vouchers per year. Vouchers are mailed out in January, then redeemed on a first-come, first-served basis, which means most voters won't be able to redeem their vouchers. That's not fair.

INCREASES POWER OF SPECIAL INTERESTS

The measure actually introduces corruption into our local elections because it allows special interest groups to collect their members' vouchers and direct hundreds of thousands of dollars to their preferred candidate. And since the vouchers aren't fully paid for, well-funded and well-organized special interests will be able to monopolize the voucher money, leaving most voters unable to contribute.

WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY

The administrative costs are exorbitant - at least $28 for every $100 in vouchers issued - and that's a conservative estimate using the proponents' numbers. The city will have to spend significant taxpayer funds to hire people to manage, police and enforce this voucher system. Besides, Seattle already has some of the lowest contribution limits in the country, an independent ethics and elections commission and strong disclosure laws. I-122 creates a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

WE HAVE MORE PRESSING PRIORITIES

Seattle has a lot of serious challenges to deal with, from affordable housing to education, transportation, public safety and more. I-122 would raise property taxes to fund political campaigns at a time when the city has many other pressing priorities.

FUNDED BY WEALTHY OUT-OF-STATE DONORS

While supporters of I-122 decry money’s influence in politics – especially money from outside the state – what they won’t tell voters is wealthy donors and special interest groups are funding their campaign. Sean Eldridge, a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager from New York, contributed $200,000; Amalgamated Bank, also from New York, contributed $50,000; and special interest groups from Massachusetts and Washington, DC have contributed over $200,000.