Grading State Disclosure 2005 Logo Graphic


golden bar divider

Assessments of each state’s campaign finance disclosure program were based on legal research, web site visits and research, web site testing by outside evaluators and responses from disclosure agency staff and activists working on campaign financing at the state level.

The UCLA School of Law and the Center for Governmental Studies researched state campaign finance disclosure laws. The legal research was originally completed from June 2002 through March 2003. A second comprehensive examination of all fifty states’ disclosure laws was conducted from July 2003 through July 2004, with the purpose of identifying any changes in the state laws as of December 31, 2003. The second round of law research also resulted in a number of minor adjustments to some of the states’ law scores, because of discrepancies in the 2002 law data that were brought to light in the process of verifying and updating the research. Changes in state laws that were made or implemented in 2004 will be reflected in the next round of grades. Statutes, regulations, rules and forms were evaluated in each state.

The California Voter Foundation (CVF) conducted research on state electronic filing programs, accessibility to disclosure records and online contextual and technical usability through a variety of methods. Each state agency responsible for overseeing campaign finance was asked to respond to a questionnaire – either by phone interview or in writing. All 50 state agencies responded to this request for information in 2003; in 2004, 48 state agencies completed the questionnaire and two responded by stating that nothing had changed since 2003. CVF also sought input from activists working on campaign finance issues at the state level; 18 responded to CVF’s questionnaire either by phone or in writing.

CVF researched campaign finance disclosure information on the web sites of each of the 50 states. The web site evaluation form created and used in 2003 to ensure uniformity in the research was also used in 2004, and each state web site was evaluated twice by CVF staff members between January and June 2004. Similar to the process undertaken by UCLA to update the law research, CVF’s analysis of state disclosure programs in 2004 also revisited the 2003 data, making some small scoring adjustments to further improve the consistency of scoring across the states.

The UCLA School of Law conducted usability tests of state disclosure web sites in June 2004. The goal of the usability tests was to determine if the disclosure information provided on the Internet is accessible to the average citizen. Usability testers, recruited from the undergraduate student population at UCLA, were asked to perform specific tasks on each state’s web site. The time and number of mouseclicks it took to complete each task were measured.

The tasks were as follows:

  • Locate the state’s disclosure web site starting from the state’s homepage;
  • ascertain the total contributions received by the incumbent governor in his or her last campaign (testers were given a list of incumbent governors that included the year they were last elected); and,
  • provide the name and amount contributed by any individual contributor to the incumbent governor’s last campaign. 

The second measure of usability was a survey in which each tester was asked to evaluate his or her experiences on each site. The states were assigned randomly to testers, with each tester testing five different states. The experiment was administered five times to ten different students, and five different students tested each state. A more detailed explanation of the usability test is included as an appendix to this report.

Following the completion of the research and usability testing, CVF compiled preliminary scores for each state that were reviewed by the Grading State Disclosure Judges before final scores, grades and ranks were determined.

Back to Criteria Next to Findings

Back to the Grading State Disclosure home page

This page was first published on October 26, 2005
| Last updated on October 26, 2005
copyright ©
Campaign Disclosure Project. All rights reserved.