Grading State Disclosure 2003 Logo Graphic

W i s c o n s i 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 Wisconsin

Although it ranked 15th in the nation for campaign finance disclosure, Wisconsin's grade of C- shows that it has significant room for improvement. It has a strong Electronic Filing program, but its failing grade in Disclosure Content Accessibility brought down Wisconsin's overall grade and rank.

Wisconsin law requires candidates to file semi-annual reports in non-election years and one report before each election. Candidates must disclose information about contributors who give more than $20, with occupation and employer information required for contributions greater than $100. Expenditures of more than $20 must be reported, but subvendor information is not required. Last-minute contributions of $500 or more must be disclosed within 24 hours. Independent expenditures and last-minute independent expenditures must be disclosed prior to an election. Wisconsin has mandatory electronic filing for statewide and legislative candidates who reach a threshold of $20,000.

Wisconsin has significant room to improve its efforts to make campaign finance information accessible to the public. Campaign finance reports are posted on the web site within one day of being received, but itemized reports are only available for electronic filers and they can only be browsed or sorted, not searched. Late contribution reports are scanned and posted onto the site. Wisconsin is one of six states with mandatory electronic filing that does not offer searchable databases of campaign finance data online. The lack of databases limits the usefulness of the campaign finance information that is on the site.

The usability of the site is average and could be improved. The site features a report that provides the public with an overview of campaign financing in the state, an explanation of the disclosure law, a comprehensive list of candidates for recent or current elections and information about which reports are on the site. The site uses clear terminology for explanations. The inclusion of disclosure reporting periods in indexes and in the body of campaign finance reports, and the posting of both original filings and amendments would make the site better. It is somewhat hard to locate the disclosure agency from the state's web portal, and once site visitors reach the Board of Elections homepage, they have to browse a very long list of election-related links and may have difficulty locating campaign finance information. Wisconsin's usability scores also indicate that there is room for improvement. Only two out of six usability testers were able to locate the governor's contribution totals. The usability testers were not able to find any individual contributions.

Disclosure Agency: State Elections Board
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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