In a bitterly disappointing decision, Judge Beth Andrus granted Seattle’s motion to dismiss our clients’ First Amendment challenge to the city’s democracy-voucher program. Judge Andrus held that forcing property owners to pay for private residents’ campaign contributions does not burden property owners’ speech rights.
Seattle’s new “democracy voucher” program flouts the First Amendment by forcing property owners, through a new tax, to subsidize other people’s political campaign donations and fund candidates not of their choosing.
During each local election cycle, Seattle residents are each entitled to four $25 vouchers, which they can contribute to candidates for city council and city attorney. Candidates must abide by spending limits, among other mandates, to be eligible. The program will eventually be extended to the mayor’s race. Funding comes from a new property tax levied specifically for this program.