Judge upholds Seattle's novel campaign finance vouchers

SEATTLE -- A judge has upheld Seattle's first-in-the-nation voucher system for publicly financing political campaigns as constitutional.

In a decision late Thursday, King County Superior Court Judge Beth Andrus rejected a challenge brought by two local property owners who said the so-called "democracy voucher" program forces them to support candidates they don't like.

Under the program, Seattle's voters decided to tax themselves $3 million a year in exchange for four $25 vouchers that they can sign over to candidates. According to the city, it costs the average homeowner $11.50 per year. The idea is to counter big money in elections and to get more people involved in politics.

The judge agreed with the city that the program is legal. She said the city has a reasonable justification for it and that it doesn't promote any particular viewpoint over any other.