Grading State Disclosure 2003 Logo Graphic

N e w . Y o r k


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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 York

New York's low performance in the disclosure law category and its F in the area of web site usability bring the state's overall grade down to a D, in spite of a strong electronic filing program and relatively good marks for accessibility of campaign finance data.

New York's campaign disclosure law requires that candidates file two statements in non-election years and two statements before each election. Candidates must disclose detailed information about contributors who give $99 or more, but occupation and employer information is not required. Expenditures of $50 or more, including details about payments to subvendors, must be reported. Last-minute contributions of $1,000 or more must be disclosed within 24 hours, but there is no equivalent reporting for last-minute independent expenditures. New York has mandatory electronic filing for all candidates who reach a threshold of $1,000, and gives candidates free software and the option to file some reports over the web.

Relative to other states, New York does a good job of making campaign finance information accessible to the public, but with a D+ in this category there is definitely room for improvement. Campaign finance reports are posted to the web site within a few days of being filed, and the site includes a searchable database of campaign contributions. Unfortunately, the only searchable field is the contributor's name; other fields, such as date and amount of contribution and contributor's zip code, are displayed in the records but are not searchable. What hurts New York's grade the most in the area of access to data, however, is the lack of an expenditure database — itemized expenditures can be browsed online when viewing a complete report, but cannot be searched.

The Board of Elections could also improve the contextual information on its web site to give the public a better understanding of the “big picture” of disclosure in New York. The state loses points because it does not offer a compilation of summary amounts raised and spent by state-level candidates. Also missing is information about disclosure reporting periods — reporting requirements are described elsewhere on the web site, but the timeframe that defines each report is not included with the report itself. To its credit, the agency does a great job telling the public exactly whose reports are available on its web site, maintaining a list of both the active and inactive committees whose information is in the contribution database and stating specifically that the data go back to July 15, 1999.

The technical usability of New York's disclosure web site is good, and the main state web site does a great job directing those seeking official campaign finance data to the Board of Elections web site, through a search on the state portal. Typing in “campaign finance” to the search window on the state homepage returns just one search result with the name of the disclosure agency and a link directly to its homepage.

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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