Voters in Seattle have rejected a proposed ten-cent tax on espresso drinks, aimed at raising money for the city's preschool and day-care programmes.

At midnight Tuesday, with 97% of the votes counted, it emerged that 68% of voters had voted against the proposed tax. The proposal needed a simple majority to pass, reported Reuters.

"As we said all along, this is the wrong way to fund child care," said Stephanie Bowman, coordinator for Joined to Oppose the Latte Tax, or JOLT.

"Everybody should be paying for these programs, not just coffee drinkers. Not with a gimmick like the Seattle latte tax," Bowman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Seattle coffee shops, ranging from Starbucks to small independent outlets, had opposed the tax, arguing it would have a negative impact on store sales.

Supporters of the Early Learning and Child Care campaign, which had sponsored the initiative, had collected signatures from more than 35,000 people in order to get the proposition included on the ballot.

Some local polls had predicted that between 65% and 75% of Seattle residents would support the tax.