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N e w . J e r s e y


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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 New Jersey

New Jersey's rank of eight shows that it has one of the best campaign finance disclosure programs in the country. However, its C grade shows that it has room to improve, particularly in Electronic Filing and web site usability.

New Jersey has a relatively strong disclosure law, however, the state's threshold for itemized contributions is the highest in the nation and results in a lack of information about many smaller contributions. Details about contributions of $400 or more — including occupation and employer — must be disclosed by candidates. Candidates have to file last-minute contribution reports listing contributions of $800 or more before the election. Candidates must file four statements in non-election years and two statements before each election. Details, including subvendor information, must be reported for all expenditures. Independent expenditures of $800 or more must be disclosed and last-minute independent expenditures (in the last 13 days before the election) must be reported within 48 hours of the expenditure. New Jersey's electronic filing program is adequately funded and technical assistance, free software and a standard filing format are available to candidates. The fact that electronic filing is voluntary for statewide and legislative candidates brings down the state's grade in this category.

New Jersey does an average job of making campaign finance information accessible to the public. The Election Law Enforcement Commission scans all campaign finance records onto the web site and reports dating back to 1999 are available. In addition, members of the public can easily order paper campaign finance records in person, by mail or fax, but at 50 cents per page, the cost of records is prohibitive. New Jersey does offer a searchable database of contributions; however, it is not possible to search by a contributor's employer or to limit a search to just one candidate. There is no searchable database of expenditures.

Despite featuring some excellent contextual information to help the public understand campaign financing in New Jersey, the overall usability of the disclosure web site could be better. One of the best features on the site is the summary information that provides an overview of campaign financing trends in New Jersey, including reports called “Trends in Legislative Financing” that cover the years 1977-1987 and 1987-1997. The site could be improved with the clear labeling of campaign finance reporting periods in report indexes and in the body of reports. In addition, scanned-in reports are hard for some members of the public to view because the site requires special software, which the agency acknowledges does not function on all computers. New Jersey's usability testing scores are average and show room for improvement, reflecting some of the shortcomings of the site. Usability testers were able to find the state's web site, but had difficulty installing the special software needed to view campaign finance reports.

Disclosure Agency: Election Law Enforcement Commission
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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