Grading State Disclosure 2003 Logo Graphic

N o r t h . C a r o l i n a


golden bar divider

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

Grading Process green cube Subcategory Weighting green cube Methodology green cube Glossary

golden bar divider

The State of Disclosure in North Carolina

North Carolina's campaign disclosure program ranks in the top 25 states in the nation, in large part due to the strength of its disclosure law. The state's lack of an electronic filing requirement for legislative candidates and its poor showing in the area of web site usability, bring down its overall grade and rank.

The state has a fairly comprehensive campaign disclosure law, requiring quarterly filing of campaign finance statements in election years, and semi-annual filing in non-election years. Candidates must collect and report detailed information about contributors, including occupation and employer for those who give more than $100. Last-minute contributions of $1,000 or more must be reported within 48 hours. Expenditures greater than $50, including subvendor details for media expenditures, must be disclosed. Independent expenditures over $100 must be disclosed at least ten days before an election, but there is no last-minute independent expenditure reporting. Electronic filing is mandatory for state candidates above the $5,000 threshold, and voluntary for legislative candidates; filing software is available for free from the State Board of Elections.

North Carolina has significant room for improvement in its efforts to make campaign finance information accessible to the public. It is one of six states with mandatory electronic filing that does not offer searchable databases of campaign finance information. Instead it offers browsable reports, which cannot be sorted or searched online. Another barrier to accessibility is in the display of the records on the Board's web site, with several entry points for campaign finance information and two completely different systems for looking up the data. Site visitors are likely to question whether they have seen everything available on the site, assuming they can see the records at all and do not have trouble using the proprietary report-viewing software.

Technical usability problems go beyond the confusion of the two systems for looking at campaign finance reports. To begin with, someone who doesn't know that campaign finance information is the responsibility of the Board of Elections might find it difficult to locate the agency's web site from the state web portal, and when they do get there, may run into confusing terminology that makes navigating the site difficult. For example, a section called “contribution/expenditures”, where one might expect to find actual campaign contributions and expenditures, instead contains a section called “contribution and expenditure limits”.

The state does slightly better providing contextual information on the disclosure web site, but again, could improve. From 1990-1998 the agency published an analysis of campaign finance activity for each election cycle and has archived these analyses online; but for some reason, similar overview reports are not available for elections held since 1998. The result is a lack of information about recent campaign finance trends that might help citizens grasp the larger picture of state-level disclosure in North Carolina. (Downloadable itemized campaign finance data is available going back to 1992, which is nice, but is not a substitute for a good overview report.) A better explanation of exactly what data is on the site, and more in-depth information about campaign finance restrictions and disclosure requirements, would also improve North Carolina's grade in web site usability.

Disclosure Agency: State Board of Elections
Disclosure Web Site:

Back to the Grading State Disclosure home page

View another state's summary:


This page was first published on September 17, 2003
| Last updated on September 17, 2003
copyright ©
Campaign Disclosure Project. All rights reserved.