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Highlights

The 2000 elections in Maine and Arizona were the first in the nation's history where candidates seeking state legislative seats had the option to fully fund their campaigns with public moneys. In 2003, GAO reviewed the public financing programs in Maine and Arizona and found the programs' goals were to (1) increase electoral competition; (2) increase voter choice; (3) curb increases in campaign costs; (4) reduce interest group influence; and (5) increase voter participation. GAO reported that while the number of candidates who participated in the programs increased from 2000 to 2002, it was too soon to determine the extent to which these five goals of the programs were being met. Senate Report 110-129 directed GAO to update its 2003 report. This report: (1) provides data on candidate participation and (2) describes changes in five goals of Maine's and Arizona's programs in the 2000 through 2008 elections and the extent to which changes could be attributed to the programs. To address its objectives, GAO analyzed available data about candidate participation, election outcomes, and campaign spending for the 1996 through 2008 legislative elections in both states, reviewed studies, and interviewed 22 candidates and 10 interest group officials selected to reflect a range of views. The interview results are not generalizable to all candidates or all interest groups. GAO is issuing an electronic supplement with this report--GAO-10-391SP--which provides data and summaries of statistical analyses conducted.

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