Campaign disclosure lauded

Image: Campaign Finance

SEPTEMBER 17, 2008

Michigan ranks third among states with the nation's strongest campaign finance disclosure programs, up from sixth last year, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land announced today.

Grading State Disclosure 2008 is the fifth annual nationwide assessment of state-level campaign finance disclosure programs and practices. Michigan achieved the third overall ranking by placing within the top 10 in three of the study's four categories, including two first-place rankings. Michigan's grade improves to an A- this year, up from a B in 2007.

"Michigan continues to lead the way in campaign finance reporting and I'm proud of what we've accomplished," Land said. "We're working hard to make sure voters have all the information before going to the polls. In addition, we continually seek changes that will save money, improve efficiency and increase the openness of the campaign finance process. We'll continue to build on this success."

The report evaluates states based on their campaign disclosure laws, electronic filing programs, accessibility of campaign finance information and the usability of disclosure Web sites.

Among the study's findings:

  • Michigan's electronic filing program earned an A+ and top ranking because both statewide and legislative candidates reaching a threshold of $20,000 are required to file electronically. In addition, the report noted that upgrades made to the system in 2008 improve ease of use.
  • In the Online Contextual and Technical Usability category, Michigan received an A+ grade and a No. 1 ranking. Michigan's online disclosure site was lauded for featuring summaries of totals raised and spent by candidates dating back to 1998 and detailed explanations of the data available. Michigan was one of only seven states to achieve the highest possible usability test rating in this year's survey.
  • The online searchable databases of contributions and expenditures were called "among the most comprehensive databases in the nation." Michigan earned an A and ranked fourth in the Disclosure Content Accessibility category for the second straight year.

Forty states earned passing grades while 10 others failed to meet the report's criteria for a satisfactory campaign disclosure program, down from 14 in 2007. Assessments are based on research of state laws as of December 2007.

The report is prepared by the Campaign Disclosure Project, which is a collaboration of the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, the Center for Governmental Studies and the California Voter Foundation. It is supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

For more information about elections and campaign finance in Michigan, visit the department's Web site at

The Grading State Disclosure report is available at