Grading State Disclosure 2005 Logo Graphic


golden bar divider

State assessments are based on research of state laws, survey results from state disclosure agency staff, web site visits and online research, and web site testing by outside evaluators.

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, a third from August 2004 to June 2005, and the most recent review occurred from March through June 2007 with the purpose of identifying any changes in the state laws as of December 31, 2006. The statutes, regulations, rules and forms of each state were evaluated. Changes in state laws that were made or implemented in 2007 are not reflected in the states’ grades, though several are mentioned in the state summaries. Electronic Filing is a separate category and some of the mandatory programs enacted in 2007 were credited in this study, if the program is scheduled to be in place by the next state election cycle.

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 survey, either online, by email or phone. 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. In 2005, 48 state agencies completed the questionnaire, one responded that nothing had changed, and one did not return the survey due to lack of staff time. In 2007, 47 states completed the survey; one state indicated no change in their state’s campaign disclosure system and two did not provide responses.

CVF researched campaign finance disclosure information on the web sites of each of the 50 states. The web site evaluation form first created and used in 2003 to ensure uniformity in the research was also used in 2007, and each state web site was evaluated twice by CVF personnel from late February through June 2007.

The UCLA School of Law conducted usability tests of state disclosure web sites in April 2007. 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 mouse clicks 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

First published October 16, 2007
| Last updated November 17, 2007
copyright ©
Campaign Disclosure Project. All rights reserved.