Grading State Disclosure 2003 Logo Graphic

M a r y l a n d


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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 Maryland

Despite its C grade, Maryland's overall ranking of twelve reflects the relative strength of its campaign finance disclosure program. While it ranks among the top states in Electronic Filing and Disclosure Content Accessibility, Maryland's disclosure law and web site usability have significant weaknesses and bring down its overall grade.

Maryland law requires candidates to file annual reports in non-election years and one report before an election. Detailed information must be disclosed for all contributions greater than $51, but a contributor's occupation and employer do not have to be reported. Last-minute contributions do not have to be disclosed before an election. Details about all expenditures, except subvendor information, must be reported. In addition to the usual expenditure information, the number of the check used to pay the expenditure must be reported. Independent expenditures are not required to be disclosed. Electronic filling is required for statewide and legislative candidates who reach a threshold of $5,000.

Maryland does a very good job of making its campaign finance data accessible to the public. The state makes all campaign finance data available in searchable databases of contributions and expenditures on its web site within twelve hours of being filed. State Board of Elections staff data enter information from all paper filed records. The state could improve the contextual information with clearer terminology. Maryland had a fair performance in the usability testing with three out of six testers finding the disclosure site, but none was able to find summary data.

Although improvements can be made to Maryland's web site, it does have some interesting and innovative features that are worth highlighting. The “Campaign Fund Report Statistics” page gives useful overview information including the combined total contributed to all committees, broken down by in-state and out-of-state contributors. Another unusual feature is the publication of campaign treasurers' e-mail addresses in the HTML display of campaign finance records. Contact information for treasurers can help people seeking answers to inconsistencies and irregularities in data filed by candidates, but many states remove this information from their online records. Finally, Maryland offers positive encouragement to site visitors with the note, “Feel free to experiment; you won't break anything.”

Disclosure Agency: State Board of Elections
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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