About Ballot Groups
1. What is a ballot group?Under the Alaska Campaign Disclosure law, a “group” is two or more individuals who act jointly to influence the outcome of an election of a state or municipal candidate or ballot measure. (AS 15.13.400(8)(B))
A ballot group may be formed to
- sponsor an initiative, referendum, or recall.
- support or oppose an initiative, referendum, recall or constitutional amendment.
- campaign to determine whether a constitutional convention shall be called, a debt shall be contracted, an advisory question shall be approved or whether a municipality shall be incorporated. (AS 15.13.065 and AS 15.80.010)
2. What are the requirements of ballot groups under the Campaign Disclosure Law?
Ballot groups must:
- register with the APOC;
- file periodic Campaign Disclosure Reports; and
- identify all political communications with a “paid for by” statement.
3. When does a ballot group need to register with the APOC?Initiative stage When a ballot group has formed to sponsor an initiative, referendum or recall, the group must registerwith the Commission “30 days after its first filing with the Lieutenant Governor…”. “First filing” means the date the group first files, with the Lieutenant Governor or Division of Elections, the proposed language for an initiative along with the signatures of 100 supporters of the proposed initiative. (AS 15.13.110(e)) If question is already on the ballot A group that forms to support or oppose an issue on a state or municipal ballot must register with the Commission “before making an expenditure in support of or in opposition to a ballot proposition or question.” This includes making expenditures to order checks or bank charges. Thus, it is best to register as early as possible. (AS 15.13.050(a))
4. When are reports due?Initiative Stage Ballot groups in the initiative stage need to file quarterly reports. The quarterly reports shall be filed within 10 days after the end of each calendar quarter. The group is required to file quarterly Campaign Disclosure Statements until:
- the group ceases its petition drive, or
- the 30 Day Pre-election report is due (if the group is successful in getting the initiative certified as a ballot issue). (AS 15.13.110(e))
- 30 Day Pre-election report: Due 30 days prior to the election.
- 7 Day Pre-election report: Due 7 days prior to the election.
- 24 Hour Report: Within 9 days prior to the election, all contributions over $250 must be disclosed within 24 hours.
- Year End Report: Discloses all activity through February 1 and is due February 15 of the following year. (AS 15.13.110)
5. Are there limits on contributions to ballot groups?Ballot groups may accept contributions from individuals or persons without limitation. This includes corporations, unions, organizations, as well as individuals and organizations from outside Alaska.
6. What happens if the required campaign disclosure reports and registration statement are not filed on time?Commission staff will assess a civil penalty based on the number of days a report is late and how close it is to the election. Fines range from $50 to $500 per day. A filer has 30 days to pay or to appeal the penalty AS 15.13.390.
7. When must a “paid for by” identifier be placed on campaign related materials?
All communications shall be clearly identified by the words “paid for by” followed by the name and address of the person(s) paying for the communication(s). It may also be necessary to identify the name and city and state of residence or principal place of business, as applicable, of each of the person’s three largest contributors under AS 15.13.040(e)(5).
For more information on “paid for by” identifiers please read this document.
8. Is there a fine for inadequate or missing identifiers?Yes. A group that fails to place a complete “paid for by” identifier on its campaign communications is subject to a civil penalty of up to $50 per day.
9. How does the group disband?The disbursement of a campaign account must be reported to the Commission within 10 days after final disposition of the balance. Ballot groups may disburse the balance in the following manner:
- give the money to charity (501(c)(3));
- repay the contributors;
- pay for a victory or thank you party;
- leave the money in the account for future election (the group must register every year and report as long as there is a balance in the account); or
- contribute the money to a group supporting a ballot proposition or question. (2 AAC 50.384)