Delaware Elections Disclosure Act

August 15, 2012

On August 15, 2012, Delaware Governor Jack Marckell signed into law one of the strongest state election disclosure statutes in the country, a decisive response to outside spending unleashed by the Citizens United decision.

The Delaware Elections Disclosure Act corrected a loophole all too common in state disclosure schemes that allows outside groups to evade disclosure requirements by refraining from expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate (“Vote for Jones” or “Defeat Smith”). By airing "sham issue ads" ("Call Smith and tell her to stop raising taxes"), groups could leave the voting public in the dark. The new law applies disclosure requirements to any outside group that airs an ad that mentions a candidate in the 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.

The law also includes an innovative disclaimer provision, requiring ads to include a weblink to the sponsoring organization’s campaign finance reports so that voters can easily determine what interests are behind campaign messages.

In the words of Justice Kennedy, these types of reforms “provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters.” It also “enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”

Legislative History


Brennan Center Resources