Grading State Disclosure 2003 Logo Graphic

M i c h i g a n


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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 Michigan

Although it received a C grade, Michigan's rank at number ten reflects a fairly strong campaign finance disclosure program. Michigan's biggest strength is its Disclosure Content Accessibility, but it has room for improvement in all of the other categories.

Under Michigan law, candidates must file one statement in non-election years and one statement eleven days before an election. Details of all contributions must be disclosed, with a contributor's occupation and employer reported for contributions greater than $100. Last-minute contributions are required to be disclosed prior to an election. Expenditures of $50 or more are required to be disclosed, but subvendor information does not have to be reported. Independent expenditures and last-minute independent expenditures are also required to be disclosed before an election. Although there is adequate funding, training and free software for electronic filing, Michigan currently has voluntary electronic filing for statewide and legislative candidates, which brings down its grade in this category. In 2004, electronic filing will become mandatory for both statewide and legislative candidates who reach a threshold of $20,000.

Michigan's effort to make campaign finance data accessible to the public is, along with Washington State, the best in the country. All campaign finance data is available in databases of contributions and expenditures that allow for detailed searches, sorting, and downloading of itemized records. Campaign finance records that are filed on paper are entered into the databases by disclosure agency staff. The site appears to function well for most users, though Macintosh users have a hard time accessing and using the site.

The usability of Michigan's web site has weaknesses, particularly in the contextual information. The web site does not feature lists of total amounts raised and spent by all candidates to help the public better understand campaign financing in Michigan. Also, Michigan is the only state that does not provide the disclosure agency's contact information on its web site. There is contact information featured on the site, but it is for the department of motor vehicles (also within the Secretary of State's office) and not for the campaign finance disclosure agency. In addition, there is no list of candidates for recent or upcoming elections and the disclosure reporting periods are not detailed in electronically filed reports. Also, the instructions describing how to use the site could be much more comprehensive. Michigan's usability testing scores reflect its shortcomings.

Disclosure Agency: Department of State
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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