Information for Organizations

Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are answered using guidance from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). For the PDC's interpretation, please refer to the Commission's Guidance Regarding the Seattle Democracy Voucher Program document.

Is using a Democracy Voucher considered a contribution?
The PDC defines a "Democracy Voucher" as a campaign contribution and is subject to RCW 42.17A. As a contribution, all statutes, rules and guidance that apply to contributions apply equally to Democracy Vouchers.

What is "bundling"?
The PDC defines "bundling" as the process in which campaign contributions are collected from donors, by a third party, and provided in bulk to a campaign.

Questions about bundling should be directed to the PDC.

Can I "bundle" Democracy Vouchers?
Under RCW 42.17A.470, bundling, acting as an intermediary or agent, is allowed only by individuals.

As defined in I-122, a candidate's representative is a person who is registered with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission for the purpose of receiving vouchers on behalf of the candidate SMC 2.04.620(d). Assuming that a candidate's representative is an individual and not an organization, RCW 42.17A.470 would allow a candidate's representative to collect and transmit vouchers.

Organizations, organized as either a non-profit or a for-profit, may not bundle contributions, or act as an intermediary or agent to transmit vouchers. Nor may an organization provide a means to transmit (e.g. a drop box) vouchers to a candidate or to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

Can organizations encourage or solicit members to send Democracy Vouchers to a particular candidate?
Organizations may encourage or solicit their members to send their members' vouchers to a specific candidate so long as the organization does not take possession of the voucher.

For example, an organization may send an e-mail to its members requesting them to donate their vouchers to a specific candidate. Organizations should check with the IRS or other experts to determine whether such actions present an issue with their tax exempt status.

Under state law, if a person is paid or employed by, or volunteers for an organization, they cannot collect vouchers at any time if they are doing so on behalf of the organization.

For a more detailed explanation, please visit the PDC's website and/or refer to the Commission's Guidance Regarding the Seattle Democracy Voucher Program document.

Organizing Candidate Debates or Candidate Forums

Can I ask candidates to engage with my community?
Yes, we encourage our partners to contact candidates and believe that many candidates will welcome this invitation. Find the campaigns' contact information here.

How can I engage the candidates and remain non-partisan?
The IRS rules for 501(c)(3) organizations state they "may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."

With that said, there are safe ways to engage candidates and remain non-partisan. We recommend that if you are engaging in an activity, that you invite all candidates to participate. Here are a few examples:

  • Your organization would like to invite candidates for Mayor to have a live Q/A session with your organization's leadership and/or members. You must ensure all candidates who have filed to run for office with the SEEC have been invited to participate.
  • Your organization is inviting all Seattle candidates to submit written responses to questions that are important to your members. All candidates must be provided a chance to respond within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Your organization is holding a community event that will include tabling and you'd like to invite City Council Position 8 candidates. All candidates running for this position must be invited to attend.

What if only a couple candidates show up?
That is okay considering participation is not something you can control. You made good-faith effort to invite all candidates and should be able to provide proof of this if asked.

Do I need to invite candidates who are not in the Democracy Voucher Program?
Yes, all candidates should be invited to participate.

We would like to promote the Democracy Voucher Program's Candidate Introductions but noticed that not all candidates have provided one.
We invite all candidates to provide an introductory statement but they do not always do so. You can promote the Candidate Introductions because we have already invited all candidates to participate.