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Campaign Disclosure Law
Electronic Filing Program
Disclosure Content Accessibility
Online Contextual & Technical Usability

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The State of Disclosure in Iowa

Iowa's rank and grade show a disclosure program that has significant room for improvement, particularly in its law and the usability of its web site.

Iowa law requires candidates to file one statement in non-election years and two statements before an election. For contributions of $25 or more, candidates must disclose a contributor's name and address, but occupation and employer are not required. Last-minute contributions do not have to be reported prior to an election. Expenditures of five dollars or more must be disclosed, but subvendor information does not have to be reported. Independent expenditures are not required to be reported. Electronic filing is voluntary for statewide and legislative candidates.

The campaign finance data featured on Iowa's disclosure web site is all in PDF format and includes a mixture of statements generated from electronically filed data and paper statements that have been scanned and posted to the site. There are no searchable databases of contributions or expenditures. Unfortunately, the usefulness of electronically filed reports is limited by posting them in PDF format because the data cannot be sorted. Some other states that do not have campaign finance databases do post electronically filed reports in a more useful format, such as Excel or HTML, thus allowing users to sort and even download the data.

The usability of the web site also has significant room for improvement. While there is a good explanation of the campaign finance restrictions in the state, the site lacks other useful contextual information. There are no lists of the total amounts raised and spent by state candidates and there is no explanation of which filers' reports appear on the site and which do not. It would also be helpful if the site used clearer terminology. For example, the text of Iowa's campaign finance disclosure law appears on the web site, but the link to get to it has the title “Chapter 56”. Iowa's site performed poorly in the usability test because the testers found the site difficult to use.

Disclosure Agency: Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board
Disclosure Web Site:

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This page was first published on September 17, 2003
| Last updated on September 17, 2003
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