Kathy Biehl is the author of the LLRX.com Research RoundUp , Web Critic and After Hours columns, co-author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Internet Research , and an attorney admitted to practice in Texas and New Jersey.
Each edition of Research Roundup will pull together related, practical online services that take outstanding advantage of the convenience and efficiency of the Internet.
This edition of Research RoundUp catalogues federal, state, and U.S. territory sites with election resources. All include some level of basic information about the upcoming ballots, as well as voter registration and filing for office. Many also provide databases of lobbyists, political action committees, and campaign finance disclosure reports. Some even offer online access to vote tallies as they come in on election nights.
This update also covers some public interest sites for tracking and analyzing campaign contributions, and adds a guide that specifically addresses the 2004 presidential campaign.
One linguistic note at the outset: For consistency’s sake I will use the Anglicized plural of referendum, referendums, because it is the form of choice among the state sites.
The Federal Election Commission offers many routes of access to campaign finance filings by house, senate, and presidential campaigns, political parties, and political action committees. The online filing retrieval system now includes disclosures dating back to 1993. It’s possible to view paper or electronically filed reports (images of physical financial reports go back to 1993), print PDFs of filings, or search the database for selected contributions or for candidate and PAC/party summaries. Extensive information for the current election is also available by campaign and committee; the site now offers data electioneering communications by organizations and the amounts they have received and spent. Registration and reporting forms, reporting dates, results for the previous three general federal elections, election laws and cases, and a variety of FEC publications are also online.
STATES & TERRITORIES
The Secretary of State’s searchable election database include candidate lists, election night returns and Fair Campaign Practices Act filings information. Information for 2002 includes the filing calendars for both the election and PAC reports, the candidate list, and list of offices to be elected. The page also contains general voter’s information and the Fair Campaign Practices Act; when statewide and local constitutional amendments exist, the site posts them as well. The Election Results Resource Center stores information by public office and election year; the first display shows statewide figures and offers the option of viewing results by county.
This site posts returns beginning at 8 PM on election night at three different URLs, which it recommends book-marking in advance because of anticipated Web traffic. Unofficial returns for the 2004 primary are already up. For the current election, the Division of Elections offers candidate lists, absentee ballot forms and filing instructions, as well as the year’s election calendar, reports of the status of petitions, and notices of upcoming elections. This information also includes overviews of candidates, arguments for and against ballot measures, and evaluations of judicial candidates. Scroll down the home page for election results, which date back to 1994, (and are below the heading FAQ), and a searchable PAC database (under Campaign Disclosure Online). The site contains extensive general information, such as calendars, polling places, and pertinent regulations and statutes.
The Elections Department of the Secretary of State begins posting returns at 8 PM on election night. The site offers election dates, the unofficial ballot measures list, a list of candidates, and results from previous elections (including the September 2004 primary) back to 1992. Among the other resources are campaign finance data (including a searchable database of political action committees) and a lobbyist search engine.
May and June 2002 election results are on the main site; unofficial November results are at the new Arkansas Election Results Website. The Secretary of State’s Elections Department posts the text of newly adopted constitutional amendments, information about absentee ballots and voter registration, and election results. Postings for the 2002 election included dates, applications, campaign contribution limits, certified ballot issues and election calendars. There is a search engine for campaign finance reports.
The Secretary of State’s Elections Division posts candidate lists, election results dating back to 1992, and information about absentee voting, filing for office, recall, and election fraud. The site offers the election code, as well as vote-by-mail applications in seven languages. It also maintains the automated lobbying and campaign contribution and expenditure search system, Cal-Access.
The Secretary of State’s Elections Center posts the current election calendar, information about initiatives on the ballot, offices to be filled, and candidate list information. Other information includes the text of initiatives, election calendars, and election results from prior years (as far back as 1996); a roster of registered lobbyists; forms for voter registration and absentee ballots; search engines for candidate financial transactions, committee reports, and lobbyist information; and the Fair Campaign Practices Act.
The Secretary of the State’s Election Services posts election results, absentee ballot and voter registration information and forms, electronic and paper campaign finance reports, and an archive of results back to May 1999. Use the Campaign Finance Information System to investigate filings by committee, candidate, political party, individual contributor, or treasurer.
The Commissioner of Election’s resources include a candidate’s list, a polling place locator, an election calendar, and vote results dating back to 1996. The site also offers voter registration information, school election forms and a calendar, and a list of offices up for election (from federal down to city). The Campaign Finance Information System allows access to reports that have been submitted online, as well as to scanned images of reports filed on paper.
The Board of Elections and Ethics posts a calendar of upcoming elections, a list of candidates, the times and locations of polling places, the results of previous elections (dating back to 1994), and information about elected officials, voter registration, and applying to be a candidate. The Office of Campaign Finance has searchable databases of financial reports, as well as contributions and expenditures.
The Department of State’s Division of Elections site offers election results (back to 1978), election calendars, and searchable databases of campaign finance records, candidates (including federal), and political committees It’s also possible to check the status and requirements for initiative petitions. The Voting Systems link provides information about the state’s new voting methodologies and ballot tabulation technologies.
The Elections Division of the Secretary of State has a list of election deadlines and dates, candidates and constitutional amendments on the ballot, absentee ballot forms, election results (back to 1988), campaign contribution disclosure reports and forms for voter registration and notices of candidacy. The Campaign Disclosure Section offers contribution disclosure reports and candidate financial disclosure statements; for lists of lobbyists and their expenditures, the site links to the State Ethics Commission.
The Office of Elections posts unofficial summary reports of election results by county, from the 2004 primary back to 1992. An absentee ballot, voter registration form, and application for nomination papers are available, along with election calendars, a candidate manual and filing report forms. The Internet Links under More Information include a pointer to the Campaign Spending Commission, which offers access to electronic filings by candidates.
The Election Division of the Secretary of State offers candidate list, the election calendar, and proposed initiatives and constitutional amendments. The site posts the results of previous elections (back to 1994) by federal and state office. County results go back to 1996. The page also lists of federal and state legislative candidates, a searchable database of campaign finance reports, rosters of lobbyists, and voter registration and other general information. The Secretary of State also maintains a page of voting information for citizens called Idaho Votes.
The State Board of Elections offers searchable databases of candidates, election results (back to 1996), propositions, political committees, and campaign contributions. For the most recent contributor information, browse the latest electronically filed reports. In addition to general voter registration information, the site has a search tool for locating an elected official or district by address. For 2004 elections, the site has the candidate’s guide, the election and campaign finance calendar, and a searchable database of candidates and vote totals. The election deadlines and calendar for 2005 are already up.
The Elections Division of the Secretary of State posts ballot questions, candidate election filings, a variety of election guides, and a searchable database of campaign finance reports. Archived election results date back to 1997. The election calendar is posted under three headings of Information Links: one for Voters, one for Election Workers, and one for Candidates.
The Voter and Elections Center of the Secretary of State has election calendars through 2006, election results back to 1996, candidacy forms, and voter registration information. For 2004, it has the candidate list and primary election returns. Look under Election Information for links to county Websites. The site maintains a searchable database of personal financial disclosure statements, which elected officeholders and other state officials are required to file.
The Elections & Legislative Division of the Secretary of State posts official election results and information about advance voting. Historic information is available back to 1988 (the most recent, at this updating, is the August 2004 primary). Candidate fact sheets are up for the current election, along with the election calendar and filing information. There is a keyword-searchable database of lobbyists (for legislative sessions back to 2001), which you limit by lobbyist or by client. Lobbyist and campaign finance filing forms and information is available from the Governmental Ethics Commission.
The Secretary of State’s Elections has an Election Night Tally System, which displays results by race and county. The site offers the text of the constitutional amendment regarding marriage, the election calendar and search tools for candidate information. The archive of election results (which dated back to 1973) is currently being revamped and is temporarily offline. The Registry of Election Finance has databases of campaign financial reports searchable by candidate, contributor, organization, and office.
The Department of Elections and Registration posts the schedule of elections from 1995 – 2008 and searchable databases of election returns and candidate information (both dating back to 1986), as well as of elected officials. The Louisiana Board of Ethis Ethics Administration Program offers reports and affidavits filed by candidates, committees, lobbyists, and public officials, as well as a searchable database of lobbyists.
The Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions reports prior vote tabulations (back to 1992) and gives information about upcoming elections, voter registration, absentee ballots, and municipal elections. For the current election the site provides candidate lists, ballot referendum questions, the election calendar, and electoral college information as well. The candidate reporting forms heading links to the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Practices site, which offers lists of candidates, PACs, lobbyists, and party committees and searchable databases of contributions and expenditures.
For 2004, the State Board of Elections has posted official statewide results, the election calendar, offices on the ballot, a list of candidates, ballot questions, and legislative proposals that affect elections and voters’ rights. Election results (back to 1986) appear under Past Elections. The campaign finance database handles queries for contributions by campaign committees, expenditures made by campaign committees, or summary information reported by campaign committees.
The Elections Division offers guides covering voter registration, absentee ballots, running for office, and more. The 2004 primary and election schedule is online, along with the calendar and candidates in special elections. Historic information includes ballot measures from 1919-2002 and 2002 election results. Take the Office of Campaign and Political Finance link to the search the database of financial reports filed by candidates and state ballot question committees. Legislators’ reports are also available broken down by district, and the office offers lists of registered candidates and committees and images of independent expenditure reports.
The Secretary of State posts election dates, candidate lists, results, and when available, statewide ballot proposals. Precinct results are searchable for the 1998, 2000, and 2002 elections. Campaign finance statements filed by committees are online, as are the filing forms for committees, for lobbyists, and for persons with casino interests (who are prohibited from making state and local political contributions). The Lobby Disclosure page offers a list of lobbyable public officials, and a search tool for lobbyists and lobby agents.
The Secretary of State posts election results (from 1998 through the September 2004 primary) and the latest election calendar, as well as a voter’s guide and a search tool for locating polling places. The site also offers voter registration and absentee ballot information. Searchable databases of financial information are available from the Campaign Finance and Public Disclose Board, which also maintains lists of lobbyists.
The Secretary of State Elections Division has a qualified candidates list and a sample ballot. Campaign Finance has reports for statewide candidates, grouped by candidate name, committee, election or report type, as well as the filing forms. The Lobbying heading offers searchable directories of lobbyists and clients (under Reports and Directory) and a search engine for compensation reports.
The Office of the Secretary of State candidate lists, ballot measures and petitions approved for circulation, and the election calendar, as well as candidate filing guidelines, an absentee ballot request, and other general information. For general elections, the site also lists the offices to be filled. Archived election results date back to 2000. The office begins reporting returns to the site on election night, on other days, the Election Night Reporting page displays the latest information from the most recent election. Visitors may view all returns or sort the database by such parameters as county, ballot issues, statewide offices, district, and race. Campaign finance and lobbyist information is available from the Ethics Commission. The Commission’s search engines retrieve electronic filings by legislators, finance committees, and lobbyists since April 2002. Scanned reports are viewable since April 2001.
The Secretary of State offers the current candidate lists and election calendar, ballot measures for 2004 and 2002, and election results since 1992. The site also lists legislators affected by term limits and explains voter registration, absentee balloting, and filing to run. Under the Campaign Finance heading is a link to the Commissioner of Political Practices, which posts candidate and committee reporting forms.
The Secretary of State has posted the 2004 election calendar, candidate filing list, the text of and sample ballot for constitutional amendments, and results from the primary election. Prior results date back to 2000. The page also provides information about absentee voting, filing as a candidate, and voter registration. The Accountability and Disclosure Commission has a searchable database of financial disclosure statements, a roster of political action committees, and lobbying information listed by principal or lobbyist.
The Secretary of State’s Elections Division archives results in a variety of permutations (statewide, by county, multi-county and federal). The Division posts the election calendar, ballot questions, offices up for election, and lists of candidates.
It has information and forms for candidacy and minority party contributions, a guide to recall, and the text of initiatives and referendums. The site has a browsable roster of political action committees, contribution and expense reports dating back to 1998, and forms for candidate contribution reports.
The Elections Division of the Department of State posts election results back to 1992 for presidential primaries and to 1998 for state elections. For the current election it has the election calendar, the constitutional question on the ballot, and videos on how to vote in New Hampshire and polling place accessibility. Besides general voter information (such as registration, absentee balloting, and the identities of various elected officials), the site offers polling places and hours, rosters of lobbyists and political action committees, and committee, candidate, and party financial reports for 2002 and 2004. Forms for registering political action committees or reporting their receipts and expenses are available.
The Division of Elections of the Department of Law and Public Safety posts the current election calendar and explains voter registration and absentee balloting. For previous elections (back to 1998), the site divides the results by race and ballot question and lists candidates and public questions. Take the link to the State Election Law Enforcement Commission; the searchable database of filings is currently down for reconstruction.
The Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections has election results back to 1996. From 1998 forward they are available by office and by county. Statistics are online for 1994 as well. For the current election, the bureau has the calendar, candidates, and bonds and constitutional amendments on the ballot. The site also provides general voter information and a roster of elected state officials. Candidate and political action committee campaign finance reports are available. The Other Election Related Links points to the bill locator at the legislature’s website.
The State Board of Elections posts the current political calendar, as well as votes tallied since 1994 (under Statistics). (The political calendar combines all deadlines related to the election, from registering to vote to filing for office to making campaign finance disclosures.) Campaign finance filings since July 15, 1999 are accessible from the Legal tab.
The State Board of Elections offers election results constitutional amendments and candidates on the upcoming ballot. Election results date back to 1992. The Campaign Finance resources include reporting forms and images of filed campaign finance reports.
The Elections page of the Secretary of State’s site has posts election results since 2000, posted by county. Current year resources include the election calendar, ballot measures, and candidate list, and unofficial primary results. Online forms include absentee ballots, recall petitions, and candidacy papers. Campaign finance disclosure reports are available for state races back to 2000. The Lobbying and Legislative link has lists of registered lobbyists from July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2005.
The Secretary of State posts the current election calendar, the list of candidates, ballot language, and primary election results. It also offers a voter guide, absentee ballot information, and results dating back to 1940. The Campaign Finance Division offers reporting forms, a calendar, and a searchable database of filings.
The State Election Board provides the election calendar, candidate filings, list of offices to be filled and the ballot text of state questions. Results for elections from 1996 on, information about voter registration, absentee voting, and the Election Board fill out the page. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission offers campaign finance forms and a searchable database of filings, called the Oklahoma Campaign Information Disclosure System.
The Elections Division of the Secretary of State has the candidate list and searchable databases of the election calendars for 2002-2004, and initiatives, referendums, and referrals. Sign up for the Division’s IrrIist to receive electronic notification of new initiatives or ballot titles. Archived election information (including official results) dates back to the 1995 special U.S. Senate primary. The site offers voter registration information, candidates’ manuals, guides and forms for campaign finance reporting, and finders for elected and elections officials. The Campaign Finance page offers summary reports for 2000 and 2004 and a searchable session database for 2004 filings.
The Department of State’s Division of Commissions, Elections, & Legislation posts the unofficial candidate list for the upcoming general election and unofficial results from the primary dates and official results for the 2001 special election. The election data archives have election calendars from 1998-2004 and results since 2000. The site includes information about absentee ballots, voter registration, and qualifying to run. Take the Campaign Finance link to retrieve finance data dating back to 1998 and retrieve the .PDF roster of registered committees.
The Commission of Election has Spanish-language resources, including election results from 1999-2003, calendars from 2003 and browsable results for a variety of election types (some dating back to 1932). More historical data (from 1932 to 2001), is available in English at the Elections in Puerto Rico site.
Rhode Island has two election sites. The Elections Division of the Secretary of State lists the candidates and the referenda questions on the upcoming ballot. This site also has the election calendar and candidacy forms. The Board of Elections posts archived returns dating back to 1998, voter registration information, and electronic copies of filed campaign finance reports.
The State Election Commission has posted official results since 1996 under Statistics, by country across the state. For the upcoming election, the site has candidates and constitutional amendments on the ballot, as well as the election calendar. The site also has information about voting, voter registration, and running for office. Voter information (registration, polling places, and more) also appears at SCVotes.org. The State Ethics Commission has campaign finance disclosure and lobbyist registration forms, along with rosters (in MS Word) of lobbyists and principals.
For 2004 elections, the Secretary of State’s Elections Elections Information provides a list of candidates, texts of ballot questions, offices to be filled, and election calendars. Historical information dates back to 1988 and includes official returns, approved measures, ballot texts, and calendars. General and primary returns are available for 1972-1986. Voter registration and absentee ballot information is available. On election night, returns are online beginning at 8 PM Central Time and updated every five minutes. The Information Access System has searchable databases of political committee campaign finance reports from 1995, reports filed by current candidates, lobbyist information and lists back to 1998, and lobbyists representing state government agencies back to 2000.
The Department of State Division of Elections lists the candidates for the upcoming election and archives results back to 1998. The page also has information about voter registration and filing for office. The Registry of Election Finance has a searchable database of candidate and PAC filings.
The Secretary of State’s Elections Division posts the calendar and information about the candidates for the current election. The site has guides and forms for voter registration and becoming a candidate. Historical vote tallies go back to 1848, for presidential elections; otherwise, the election history dates back to 1992. The site has historically uploaded unofficial returns hourly throughout election night.
The State Elections Office post election results dating back to 1982 (under Voter Information). Candidate information includes the current list and instructions for filing. Information about pending and past initiatives and propositions appears under Other Elections Information. The site lists registered lobbyists, political action committees, and political parties and maintains searchable databases of disclosure reports filed by corporations, political action committees, since 1996, and political issues committees. Information is also available about voter registration, absentee ballots, and current state and federal officials.
The Secretary of State’s Elections and Campaign Finance Division posts detailed election results since 1996; totals date as far back as 1789. The site also offers an election calendar and a list of candidates. The site has lists of registered lobbyists and all active PACs and two searchable campaign finance databases, one for the current election cycle, and one covering 1916-2002. There are three search tools for the lobbyist registry database; one retrieves registration information, another identifies lobbyists’ employers, and the third discloses reported gifts to legislators and administrative officials. Candidate and lobbyist registration and disclosure forms are available, as are voter registration information and forms and guides for town meetings and local office petitions.
Candidate lists and ballot issues are up for current elections. Election results go back to 1995. Also available are election calendars for 1999-2004 (under Election Information / More Election Info), candidate lists from 2001, ballot issues for 2000-2004, and the five-year election schedule (through 2008), as well as vacancies to be filled and referendums in local special elections. The Campaign Finance page houses reporting forms and calendars, a searchable database of electronically filed disclosure reports from candidates and committees, and a list of political action committees. Information about voter registration and running for office is also available from the site.
The Secretary of State Election Division’s election information page posts offices up for election, candidate statements, the election calendar, ballot measures and a voter’s guide to measures and offices in the election. Guides for previous elections are archived back to 1997, while the searchable database of election results starts with the September 1970 primary. Voter registration and candidate filing information is also available.
For campaign finance information, the site points to the Federal Election Commission and the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, which has forms, a searchable filings database, an index of lobbyists, and images of last minute contribution filings and independent expenditures.
Election information appears under the heading Participate in Government. The site has a search engine under Get Involved in Elections for retrieving official and unofficial returns for elections in 2002 – 2006. The index of historical election results begins with 1998 and are broken down, in some instances, by election, office, party, and amendments. For the current year, the Secretary of State’s Elections Division has a list of offices on the ballot, the election calendar, and a roster and searchable database of candidates who have filed. Campaign finance disclosure reports are searchable by candidate and political action committee. There is one database for filings from 2000 and 2001 and a new one for filings beginning in 2002. Forms for candidates, financial disclosure, and absentee ballots are available from the site.
The Elections Board posts election results back to 1996; current candidates and election dates; all committees, groups, and other entities registered with the Board; and Board forms. Campaign finance information includes images of reports filed electronically since July 2002 by candidates, PACs, legislative campaign committees, and political party committees.
For 2004, the Secretary of State’s Election Administration has posted key dates, the election calendar, rosters of candidates and campaign committees, offices up for election and retention, and ballot issues. Similar information is available for each election back to 1998. Election results start with 1996. The Lobbyist page includes forms and a roster; activity reports are available by e-mail, on request. The site maintains a roster of political action committees and gives out general voter information (including registration forms).
Campaign Contribution Tracking & Analysis
Opensecrets.org analyzes campaign finance filings in every imaginable way: by political party, zip code, state, individual donor, industry, and more. Although the front-page emphasis is federal, state-level data is available for more than half of the nation as well. The states with coverage are shown in green on the map under the Get Local! tab. The site offers profiles of state representatives, of political parties and their committees, and of the top individual donors in the current (or most recent) election. The site offers a free, money-in-politics newsletter called Capital Eye, which examines special interest legislation on the federal level. Subscribe for e-mail notice of when new articles are posted. The companion site, FEC Watch, tracks and comments on FEC actions, rulemaking, and opinions, as well as legislation affecting it and litigation against it (some of which FEC Watch has brought).
Follow the Money analyzes campaign contribution filings from almost all the states, some dating back to 1996. You can look at data by contributor, candidate, or state, or view overviews of candidates, ballot measures, or party committees. Use More Search Options to target a search to multiple states or election cycles, specific offices, candidates or contributors, or specific interests. New features include reports on Walmart and other names in the news, the effect of campaign finance reform on Florida, the widespread GOP bias of chambers of commerce, and the politics of judicial elections. Check Research and Reports for articles on other topics. E-mail updates are available by free subscription; the site permits subscribers to designate states of interest.
2004 Elections Subject Guide
As reported in the September 24 edition of beSpacific, the University of Houston Libraries have compiled an annotated election guide with links to sites sponsored by state and federal government, academic, association, news sources, campaigns, and polling organizations. The resources include critical commentaries and analysis, information sources for voters, public opinion polls, and official campaign sites.
©2004 Kathy Biehl. All Rights Reserved.