Bipartisan Poll Finds Voters Want Stronger Enforcement of Campaign Finance Laws, Increased Transparency in Elections

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Members of the Federal Election Commission speaking
Members of the Federal Election Commission during an open meeting. Photo by Casey Atkins/Campaign Legal Center.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) released findings from two bipartisan polls where voters expressed overwhelming support for increased transparency in election related contributions and for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to take a more active role in enforcing campaign finance laws.

Voters have a right to know which wealthy special interests are spending big money to secretly influence our vote and our government. Real transparency about who is spending big money on elections will mean more government accountability, less influence for wealthy special interests and less political corruption.

Campaign finance laws that are currently in place help everyday Americans understand who is trying to influence their vote and those seeking office, but are not consistently enforced by the FEC, the only government agency whose sole responsibility is overseeing the integrity of our political campaigns. 

The FEC regularly deadlocks and is currently operating without a quorum, so it cannot take any action against any lawbreakers during one of the most expensive election cycles in history. 

The polls, commissioned by CLC, were conducted by a Democratic firm, ALG Research, and a Republic firm, GS Strategy Group.

Key Findings: 

  • A majority of voters rate “corruption in the political system” as the most serious problem facing the country, even more serious than rising healthcare costs.
    • Independents are especially likely to see corruption as the nation’s most pressing problem.
    • 61% of voters believe that major changes need to be made to the country’s campaign finance system.
  • Unlimited secret political donations and the influence of big money in our politics are also viewed as major problems, with even more expressing concern over them than over illegal immigration and stagnant wages.
  • 71% of voters want the FEC to take a more active role enforcing campaign finance laws, and there is at least two-thirds support for this across party lines.
    • The desire for a more active FEC is not just broad. It is also intense, with a majority of voters (51%) saying that it is very important that the FEC takes on a more active role in enforcing campaign finance laws.
  • More than four-out-of-five (83%) of voters support public disclosing contributions to organizations involved in elections, with a majority of 56% strongly in support.
    • This intense support for public disclosure extends across partisan and demographic lines.
  • Support for disclosing political contributions to specific organizations is also high, regardless of where the organization falls on the ideological spectrum.
    • Political partisans were just as likely to support disclosing contributions to organizations they were more likely to agree with as they were for organizations they were more likely to disagree with.

The failure of the FEC to enforce campaign finance laws has resulted in an explosion in secret spending, and our politics are increasingly rigged in favor of special interests.

Voters overwhelmingly want the FEC to take a more active role in enforcing campaign finance laws and support increased transparency in election related contributions to reduce corruption and protect the voices of all voters. 

Learn more about voters’ support for increased transparency in election related contributions and support for the FEC to take a more active role in enforcing campaign finance laws.

 

This post was written by Sheely Edwards, a 2019 CLC Hinckley intern, and student at the University of Utah.