Introduction to campaign finance and elections
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency established in 1975 to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act). The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House, Senate, Presidency and the Vice Presidency.
The FEC’s mission is to protect the integrity of the federal campaign finance process by providing transparency and fairly enforcing and administering federal campaign finance laws.
While the FEC administers the federal campaign finance laws, it has no jurisdiction over the laws relating to voting, voter fraud and intimidation, ballot access or election results.
This page was created for members of the public who want to:
- Explore options for supporting federal candidates
- Research the FEC's campaign finance data
- Learn how the FEC enforces the campaign finance law
- Locate specific voting or election information
Understanding ways to support federal candidates
There are a number of activities that individuals and groups may engage in to support federal candidates. Common activities include directly contributing to a candidate and their campaign committee, volunteering on behalf of a candidate, producing public communications such as independent expenditures, and using a computer or digital device for campaign activity.
Researching campaign finance data
The Act and Commission regulations require federal political committees to file periodic campaign finance reports disclosing their receipts and disbursements. As part of those reports, committees must list the name, address, occupation and employer for each individual contributor who gives more than $200 to the campaign during an election cycle (or calendar year for PACs and party committees).
The Act also requires the FEC to make campaign finance disclosure reports available to the public, including on its website, within 48 hours of receipt.
While campaign finance reports filed with the FEC are available to the public, the Act prohibits using individual contributor information contained in the reports for soliciting contributions (including any political or charitable contributions), or for any commercial purpose.
Enforcing the federal campaign finance law
The FEC has exclusive jurisdiction over the civil enforcement of the federal campaign finance law. Enforcement cases can come from audits, complaints, referrals from other government agencies or self-submissions. Anyone can submit a complaint if they believe a violation of the law has occurred or is about to occur.
Enforcement cases are primarily handled by the Office of General Counsel and are known as Matters Under Review (MURs). However, some matters may be resolved through the Commission’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program. The Administrative Fine Program is used to assess penalties for late and non-filed reports.
While ongoing enforcement actions must remain confidential, redacted files for closed enforcement matters are made available to the public within 30 days after the parties involved have been notified that the entire matter has been closed.
Election and voting information
State law governs voter registration and polling place accessibility. The best resource for questions about voter registration and polling locations and hours is your local board of elections.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is a federal government agency that serves as a national clearinghouse of information about election administration. It offers numerous resources for assisting voters.
U.S. Election Assistance Commission
866-747-1471 (toll free)
The FEC publishes Federal Elections, a biennial compilation of official, certified federal election results obtained from each state's election office and other official sources. These publications include primary, runoff and general election results for the Senate, the House of Representatives and (when applicable) the President.
Other federal and state resources
As previously stated, the FEC administers the federal campaign finance laws, but has no jurisdiction over the laws relating to ballot access for candidates, voter fraud and intimidation, ballot access, or the Electoral College. For the convenience of voters and candidates, the appropriate federal or state agency to contact is listed on this page.
State laws and procedures govern how candidates come to appear on election ballots. For information, individuals should contact the chief election official in their state.
Reporting suspected voter intimidation or fraud
If you want to report voter intimidation or fraud, please contact your state's main election office.
The Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice enforces the civil provisions of the federal laws that protect the right to vote, including the Voting Rights Act, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act and the Civil Rights Acts.
If you want to report a possible violation of federal voting laws, please fill out the U.S. Department of Justice’s Election Complaint Report.
Voting Section of the U.S. Department of Justice
The FEC has no jurisdiction over the Electoral College. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the federal agency responsible for coordinating activities of States and Congress regarding the Electoral College vote for President.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact the FEC for assistance
Telephone Inquiries: (800) 424-9530 or (202) 694-1000
1050 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002