Washington voters have rejected a measure that creates a publicly funded voucher system for political contributions. Initiative 1464’s voucher system would have given voters three $50 “democracy credits” that they could use in state races every two years. To pay for the statewide system, the measure would have repealed the non-resident sales tax exemption for residents of sales-tax-free states like Oregon and Montana who shop in Washington. To be eligible to redeem the vouchers, participating political candidates would have to have pledged to limit self-financing, as well as the size of donations they accept. About 53 percent of voters rejected the measure. Seattle voters passed a similar citywide measure last year. Voters there agreed to raise taxes by $3 million a year in order to get four $25 vouchers they can sign over to candidates, starting with the 2017 council and city attorney elections.
I-1464 also would have imposed tougher donor disclosure requirements on political ads and limit the amount of money government contractors and lobbyists can contribute to candidates. Additionally, it would impose a three-year waiting period before former elected officials and senior staff can lobby their previous employers and colleagues.
Among the many changes I-1464 sought was to impose stricter penalties and update fines that were set with the state’s underlying public records laws, but were not indexed to inflation and have never been increased. I-1464 would have increased the maximum fine for violations from $10,000 to $50,000, and would have updated the underlying law to index the fines for inflation in the future.
Opponents to the measure had argued that the measure would divert taxpayer dollars from services to politics.