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Highlights

In 2000 and 2002, Maine and Arizona held the nation's first elections under voluntary programs that offered full state funding for political candidates who ran for legislative and certain statewide offices. The goals of these programs, passed as ballot initiatives by citizens in these states, included increasing electoral competition and curbing increases in the cost of campaigns. Congress has considered legislation for public financing of congressional elections nearly every session since 1956, although no law has been enacted. In the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (P.L. 107-155 (2002)), Congress mandated that GAO study the results of the unique public financing programs in Maine and Arizona. For the 2000 and 2002 elections in Maine and Arizona, this report provides: (1) statistics on the number of candidates who chose to campaign with public funds and the number who were elected; and (2) observations, based on limited data, regarding the extent to which the goals of the public funding programs were met.

Full Report