Grading State Disclosure 2008 Logo Graphic

M a r y l a n d

Grade
Rank
C
32

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Subcategories
Grade
Rank
Campaign Disclosure Law
D-
44
Electronic Filing Program
A+
1
Disclosure Content Accessibility
A
7
Online Contextual & Technical Usability
D
37

Grading Process green cube Subcategory Weighting green cube Methodology green cube Glossary

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The State of Disclosure in Maryland

Maryland has earned a C in each of the five Grading State Disclosure assessments conducted since 2003, and ranked 32nd in 2008. The state earned the same grade in each area of the assessment as it did in 2007, earning an A+ for electronic filing, an A for accessibility, and Ds in the law and usability categories.

As in 2007, Maryland’s disclosure law earned a D- and ranked 44th in 2008. Candidates must report the names of contributors giving $51 or more, but not occupation or employer data. Expenditure disclosure is stronger, but does not include subvendor reporting. A major weakness of the law is the lack of independent expenditure disclosure. Despite the weak law, Maryland’s overall disclosure program is strengthened by an excellent electronic filing system that is mandatory for both statewide and legislative candidates and again received an A+ and number one ranking in this category in 2008. To assist electronic filers, the State Board of Elections offers training seminars as well as online training manuals and sample filings.

Maryland earned an A again and ranked 7th in the Disclosure Content Accessibility category in 2008. In partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the State Board of Elections provides excellent access to campaign disclosure reports online. The public can browse clean, HTML versions of both electronic reports and paper-filed reports that have been data-entered by agency staff. The public can also search comprehensive databases of campaign contributions and expenditures that contain records from both paper and electronic reports. Within both reports and database search results, itemized transactions can be downloaded and are presented with helpful summary information, such as the total amount and the largest individual transaction.

With no changes made in the last year, Maryland’s disclosure database earned a D again in 2008 in the Online Contextual and Technical Usability category. The Board of Elections’ web site performed well again on the usability test, with most testers rating their experience on site as average or higher. The main shortcoming of the site is the lack of several key pieces of contextual information: there are no overviews comparing fundraising and spending between candidates; the starting and ending dates of reporting periods are not provided with reports; amended reports are not labeled as such; and, when a report is amended the original version is removed from the site.

Quick Fix: Provide the starting and ending date for each reporting period in the index of a candidate’s reports and within the report itself.

Editor’s Pick: Itemized transactions within disclosure reports, and within database search results, list the largest, smallest, and cumulative amount of the transactions. View image

Disclosure Agency: State Board of Elections
Disclosure Web Site:
http://www.elections.state.md.us

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First published September 17, 2008
| Last updated September 17 2008
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Campaign Disclosure Project. All rights reserved.