Five days before Seattle’s Democracy Vouchers are to play a role in a general election for the first
time, a trial court judge has validated the legality of the program adopted by voters as Initiative
122 two years ago.
In dismissing the challenge brought by Mark Elster and Sarah Pynchon, King County Superior Court
Judge Beth Andrus wrote, “The City has articulated a reasonable justification for the Democracy
Voucher Program. It seeks an increase in voter participation in the electoral process. This
goal was recognized by the Buckley Court to be ‘goals vital to a self-governing people.’ The
Democracy Voucher Program is a viewpoint neutral method for achieving this goal.”
The initiative authorized the funding of a voucher program through the imposition of an additional
property tax imposed in years 2016 through 2025. The proceeds of this tax may be used only to fund
the Democracy Voucher Program.
For Tuesday’s general, the vouchers are available to be used in two City Council races
and the contest for City Attorney. Because incumbent City Attorney Pete Holmes chose to
participate in the program as a candidate for re-election, he was screened from the litigation.
The City’s case was handled by Assistant City Attorney Michael Ryan, who said, “We are pleased
with the Court’s decision to uphold this important program, which fosters public participation
in the electoral process.”