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Hey, Russell! Waddaya think o' THIS? HAH?
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Posted by: TEEBONE ®

09/06/2021, 17:19:51

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'Democracy vouchers' slammed as 'brazen political corruption'

WND News Services
8-10 minutes

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

[Editor's note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Policy.]

By Nikki West
Real Clear Policy

We all know it’s true: Political spending in America is broken. While millions of Americans struggle to feel politically heard, big corporate PACs outspend ordinary Americans 4 to 1. But Seattle’s unique solution to level the playing field is downright corrupt.

In November 2015, Seattle voters approved the Honest Voters Initiative (I-122) to create the Democracy Voucher program — a program in which the city sends all eligible voters a $25 voucher to donate to the political candidate of their choice. It sounds lovely until you realize it’s funded through a $3 million annual tax levied on residential and commercial properties over the next ten years. According to the city of Seattle’s website, this roughly breaks down to $8 per Seattle homeowner. While this seems marginal, it adds more unnecessary costs for Seattleites in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

You can see the issue here.

This is a political wealth redistribution scheme. It takes political capital from Seattle property owners and gives it to others who may use those funds directly against their interests. Naturally, this program is championed by those in Seattle who do not respect property rights. Andrew Grant Houston, a candidate for Seattle City Mayor who owes more than $20,000 in back rent to his landlord, has raised the funds for his campaign almost exclusively from the program.

This is a glaringly obvious First Amendment violation. In the Supreme Court case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the Supreme court ruled that public sector unions cannot require non-member employees to pay union fees if it directly funds political speech. If a union can’t tax members to pay for political speech, then why can the city of Seattle? The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Seattle homeowners, Mark Elster and Sarah Pynchon, to challenge the democracy voucher program along these lines. The Supreme Court of Washington State dismissed the case. The case was dismissed on the grounds of the program having “use[d] public money to facilitate and enlarge public discussion and participation in the electoral process, goals vital to a self-governing people.” While it seems appropriate to allocate taxpayer funds to platform political speech, democracy vouchers differ in that they directly contribute to the infrastructure of a campaign. This is a gross misrepresentation of the complaint against the program.

Supporters of Democracy Vouchers argue that this program is the best way for underprivileged BIPOC Seattleites to participate in the political process. While this is arguably a noble goal, it’s simply not representative of reality. In a study conducted by the University of Washington, white voters over 60 years of age were three times more likely to use the program than Black or Native American voters. Additionally, more than 5 percent of program participants with incomes above $75,000 participated in the Democracy Voucher program while only 2 percent of individuals below $30,000 did. In another study by the Fels Institute of Government, the program was shown to be utilized by only 4% of eligible Seattlites every election cycle. What an incredible waste.

Whether or not this lack of participation by the intended population groups is a matter of poor civic outreach, it still stands that this program is fundamentally corrupt. Forcing property owners to subsidize their neighbors political contributions doesn’t promote democracy, it undermines it. This is robbing Peter to pay for Paul’s reelection campaign — and Paul may be interested in taking more of your rights away.

The Democracy Voucher program has many allies outside of the Pacific Northwest. In 2011, an op-ed in the New York Times conceptualized a program similar to democracy vouchers. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) suggested during the 2020 Presidential election that the Democracy Voucher should be implemented nationally.

I suspect this is not the last time this program will be discussed on the national stage to combat out of control political spending. Given Seattle’s track record with Democracy Vouchers, the consequences of expanding this program nationally can only lead to disaster.

The Democracy Voucher program isn’t a victory for Seattle’s poor, it’s a farce. It pretends to uplift minority viewpoints while engaging in speech suppression against unpopular political groups. It historically isn’t used by the people that it claims to empower. And it sets a dangerous precedent allowing the state to force some citizens to fund the political speech of others.

In the end, it’s just more of the same political corruption in a city that continues to erode the rights of homeowners.

This election cycle won’t see anyone ending Democracy Vouchers in Seattle. But it should. This extraordinarily unethical program deserves to be thrown out to the waste bin of history.

Nikki West is a freelance journalist and 5th Generation Pacific Northwesterner based in Seattle, WA. She covers mental healthcare, Black Lives Matter, public safety, and counterculture.

[Editor's note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Policy.]


Liberty is paramount. Government is an afterthought.

Democrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.

Liberals are people who stand on their heads and insist that the world is upside-down.

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