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SEATTLE, WA – On Tuesday, Seattle voters approved Initiative 122: Honest Election Seattle, putting Seattle at the forefront of a nationwide movement to empower regular voters and reduce the influence of special interests and mega-donors in elections. WashPIRG aided the passage of I-122, gathering signatures to qualify the initiative, and mobilizing canvassers and organizers to talk to thousands of voters over the past few weeks.
“Seattle elections should be decided by Seattle voters, not an elite group of wealthy donors and special interests,” said Bruce Speight, executive director of WashPIRG. “With the passage of the Honest Elections Initiative, we’ve taken a big step forward in our movement to put average voters back in control of our democracy. This is a major victory for Seattle residents, and it sends a message that voters across the country can make a powerful difference when they stand up to big-money politics.”
Seattle’s Honest Elections Initiative creates a first-in-the-nation small donor empowerment program that provides registered Seattle voters with “democracy vouchers” that can be donated to local candidates. The new law also lowers the cap on contributions to local candidates and prohibits companies with large city contracts from contributing in Seattle elections.
A similar clean election initiative also passed in Maine on Tuesday. The passage of clean election initiatives in Maine and Seattle comes on the heels of similar victories in New York City and Montgomery County, which passed strong small donor empowerment measures in 2009 and 2014, respectively.
“The movement to get big money out of our elections is not only growing, but succeeding,” said Speight.
Last week, a new WashPIRG analysis of spending in the 2015 Seattle city council primary elections found that just 1,589 contributors, whose individual contributions were worth $500 or more, provided more than half of the $2.5 million raised by candidates through August 4th. Candidates also raised more than $450,000, or roughly one-fifth of all funds, from 596 non-resident donors who gave contributions worth $500 or more.
“Americans on both sides of the aisle want action to stop the flood of big money in our elections, and this Election Day, voters took matters into their own hands,” said Speight. “The passage of Honest Elections Seattle makes regular constituents a top priority in our elections, and that’s a major win for voters.”
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WashPIRG is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. www.wispirg.org.
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