Washington Supreme Court upholds Seattle voucher system

SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington State Supreme Court has upheld Seattle’s “democracy vouchers” program, which allows residents to contribute taxpayer money to qualifying political candidates.

The justices issued their unanimous opinion on Thursday.

The Seattle Times reports that under the program approved at the ballot in 2015 and first used in 2017, the city raises $3 million annually in property taxes. Each election cycle, voters receive four $25 vouchers that they can sign over to candidates who abide by certain rules.

Dozens of candidates are using the vouchers in this year’s City Council elections.

Proponents say the vouchers counter big money in politics by involving people who otherwise wouldn’t donate and by helping lesser-known candidates compete.

Opponents said the voucher system violated their free speech rights by forcing them to support candidates they didn’t favor, but the justices disagreed.

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