Grading State Disclosure 2003 Logo Graphic

S o u t h . D a k o t a


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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

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The State of Disclosure in South Dakota

While South Dakota has significant room for improvement in its efforts to make campaign finance data accessible to the public, it does a good job of providing the public with contextual information and a usable Web site. Its near-last rank in the disclosure law category and lack of electronic filing, though, result in an F overall.

South Dakota's campaign disclosure law ranked 49th, ahead of only neighboring North Dakota. The law requires candidates to file one statement annually, plus one statement before each election. Candidates must report details about contributors who give $100 or more, including information about a contributor's employer, but not occupation. Last-minute contributions of $500 or more must be disclosed within 48 hours. Expenditures are reported, but detailed subvendor information is not required. Independent expenditures are not reported.

The state's official disclosure web site contains up-to-date itemized campaign finance data for all statewide and state legislative candidates for the most recent election cycle, plus summary data going back to 1994. Unfortunately, all of the itemized records are in the form of scanned images of paper-filed reports — some handwritten — which means there is little opportunity for meaningful analysis of the data.

South Dakota offers good contextual information on its disclosure web site, including an explanation of campaign finance laws and reporting requirements, a comprehensive list of candidates from the most recent election, and a format that helps people determine which reports have been filed and are available online. Clear terminology throughout the web site enhances its usability. The state could improve contextual usability by posting campaign finance report summaries for more recent elections on its disclosure site — currently the site features reports showing total amounts raised and spent by state candidates from 1994-2000, but similar reports do not exist (at least not online) for the 2002 election. The clear labeling of disclosure reporting periods, both in the index of a candidate's reports and within the report itself, would also boost South Dakota's grade in this category.

South Dakota received a near-perfect score for technical usability. The Secretary of State's web site is easy to navigate, and the state did very well in the usability testing; all testers quickly found South Dakota's disclosure web site from the state homepage and easily located individual contributor data.

Disclosure Agency: Secretary 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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