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About Grading State Disclosure

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The 2004 Presidential election season has been marked by a substantial upswing in voter participation, accompanied by an increased demand by citizens for access to the information needed to cast an informed vote.  A primary component of that decision-making process is information about money in politics.


The Grading Process

  Political contributions play a significant role in the campaigning process, providing the dollars necessary for candidates to reach out to voters both in person and through a variety of media.   Campaign finance reporting enables voters to find out which groups are backing those who seek their votes.  Even after politicians are elected and begin serving in office, access to information about money in politics is important.  When state governments are faced with tough regulatory and budgetary decisions, the winners and losers are often engaged in making campaign contributions, and the public has a right to know about those financial transactions.

While many states have strong campaign finance disclosure laws, information about campaign finance regulations and disclosure requirements – and the disclosure records themselves – are not always disseminated in formats that are useful to the public.  More states are offering campaign filings in online databases that give the public quick access to the details of candidates’ campaign finance activity, but others still display campaign records in a way that inhibits meaningful analysis of the records or makes it difficult to inspect them at all.  Access to contextual information, such as summary reports of total candidate fundraising and thorough explanations of state disclosure requirements, is just as important and provides voters with the background necessary to understand the implications of individual campaign finance reports.

The Campaign Disclosure Project seeks to bring greater transparency and accountability to money in state politics through assessments of state disclosure programs as well as the development of a model state campaign finance disclosure law.  The Campaign Disclosure Project is a collaborative effort of the UCLA School of Law, the Center for Governmental Studies and the California Voter Foundation (CVF) and is supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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This page was first published on October 25, 2004
| Last updated on October 25, 2004
Campaign Disclosure Project. All rights reserved.