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Campaign Finance Research and Experiments

By Joe Goldman / 2013 April 30th

The Democracy Fund approved two new research grants earlier this year that will help us to better understand more about how certain campaign finance reforms work in practice, as well as the potential role of technology to improve the regulation of campaign financing. A $300,000 grant to researchers from Fordham University, Columbia University, and Binghamton University will support an innovative set of field experiments that aim to shed new light on the relationship between money and our political system, as well as how well reforms like increased disclosure and the use of public funds to match small donations work. The Democracy Fund chose to support this research because we believe that the data on many critical questions about money in politics remain unclear. The unique application of field experiments offer reformers, policy makers, and the courts with definitive answers to some of these questions that lie at the heart of current legislative and judicial debates. The two-year research project is led by Professors Don Green of Columbia University, Costas Panagopoulos of Fordham University, and Jonathan Krasno of Binghamton University. Green is a leading pioneer in the application of field experiments to the realm of elections, campaigns, and our democracy. A $50,000 grant to Reinvent Albany will support research into how regulators in New York State could use technology to modernize the reporting and compliance of campaign finance contributions under a proposed small-donor matching system that is being considered in Albany. Working with a team of local technologists and experts, the Reinvent Albany team will assess the needs of candidates, regulators, and the public as it develops recommendations for how technology may be able to streamline the process, encourage greater accountability, and foster a stronger campaign finance system The Democracy Fund chose to support this research project because we believe it will offer unique insight into the bipartisan application of technology to improve how our campaign finance system operates. In the coming months, we look forward to updating you on the progress of these two exciting new grants.

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