July 16, 2018
Piper Action Fund works to reduce the impact of corporate and wealthy special interest money on our democracy. To do so, it supports campaigns for reform policies that will increase the power of underrepresented communities. With support from Voqal, the Piper Action Fund served as an important strategic partner in the effort to successfully implement Seattle’s Democracy Voucher program.
Seattle’s Democracy Voucher program achieved significant gains toward a healthier democracy in its inaugural cycle. More than 25,000 residents donated to citywide campaigns — 84 percent were new donors giving to candidates who sought support from a broad array of the city’s residents. Democracy vouchers diversified the donor and candidate pools, increasing participation among communities of color, women, young people and lower-income families.
“What Democracy vouchers really do is allow disfranchised communities to participate,” said Mary Le Nguyen, Executive Director at Washington CAN. “On top of that, candidates were really focused on our communities, they were able to engage with their constituents on the issues…and that’s how we shift power.”
For the Piper Action Fund, Seattle is a roadmap of a successful multi-year grant-making strategy that builds power for disenfranchised communities. Piper has been a strategic partner to advocates in Seattle since 2014. Its grant-making advanced the planning process and conceptualization of the voucher program and ensured that local groups and New American Majority communities had a strong voice at the decision-making table. This funding also supported key research and program implementation, as well as evaluation to understand the lessons learned. Furthermore, the program’s impact has already spread beyond Seattle — advocates in places like Albuquerque, Minneapolis, New York City, Austin and New Hampshire are exploring similar programs in 2018 and beyond.
Voqal is a strong believer in empowering individuals through campaign finance and other democracy reforms aimed at elevating the voice of everyday citizens. Seattle’s Democracy Voucher program is an innovative and effective solution to the outsized role of money in politics. We applaud the Piper Action Fund and the other organizations who have worked tirelessly to make this law a reality and look forward to their continued efforts to ensure it amplifies the voice of Seattle’s citizens in local elections.