Seattle Initiative I22: What is it?

Elections Not Auctions, by Public Citizen, cc.

CITIZENS REUNITED? .. click for a pro statement on I22.

In an era where the cost of a single city council seat in Seattle may be over $1,000,000 SEATTLE,  I-122 is purported to  offer a divers collection of campaign finance reforms.

The most innovative aspect would be that each voter would receive four $25 vouchers.  This would be intended to get candidates  to spend time with “ordinary” voters, not just big donors.

“We really truly believe with democracy vouchers, a lot of folks across the city who never imagined or considered donating to a campaign before will all of a sudden have a tool they can use,” said Chris Genese of Washington Community Action Network, one of the groups backing the measure.

The funding for the democracy vouchers would come from a small property tax levy of 1.94 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Supporters believe that would raise the $3 million needed for the plan, based on past campaign contribution data.

Candidates could chose either to participate in the democracy voucher program or run the traditional route. However, campaign contributions would be lowered for all city races. Candidates could also still receive minimal private contributions.

The measure would impose limits on corporations who lobby the city, although it is not clear how this would work post Citizens United or how such an action could limit contributions form PACs, labor unions, or ell to do employees (or owners) of large businesses.

Sandeep Kaushik, a Seattle-based political consultant has  launched a campaign : “No on Election Vouchers.” “It’s a completely untried, untested model of doing public financing,” said Kaushik. “The potential for abuse is really off the charts. The potential for (vouchers) to be sold or traded or having organizations collect up large numbers of them, that they can then use to make big contributions to particular candidate actually increasing the influence of special interests is really off the charts.”