What We Do

Illuminate the influence of money in politics

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MapLight’s online tools and research bring transparency to government data and put a spotlight on the outsize influence of money in politics so that journalists and advocacy groups can hold lawmakers accountable. 

Data

Our online database makes it easy to connect the dots between political money and influence on policy. We combine data on campaign contributions, legislators’ votes on bills, and information on the interests supporting and opposing those bills in the United States Congress and the California State Legislature. Our federal lobbying data set adds further dimension to this picture.

Research & Reporting

Our team publishes original research and reporting that highlights the outsize influence of money in politics. We also provide research on campaign contributions and lobbying to journalists and advocates working in the public interest and provide resources to enhance public understanding of how money impacts our democracy, like Dark Money Watch (a hub for understanding how hidden donors can influence elections).

Empower voters
with facts

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Voters need good information to make decisions. Yet each election, the public is flooded with misleading information on a few highly publicized contests—while lacking any information at all on others. To meet this need, MapLight builds innovative tools that put crucial civic information into the hands of the public.

Voter's Edge

Our nonpartisan online voter guide, Voter’s Edge, covers candidates and ballot measures at the federal, state, and local level. In 2016, Voter’s Edge California, a joint project with the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund, reached 1.8 million people—the equivalent of one in 12 California voters. We also expanded to include new Voter’s Edge sites for Illinois and New York. Our site was the most comprehensive voter guide available in all three states—and we aim to serve an even broader audience in 2018.

Civic Tech

MapLight has partnered with the California Secretary of State to build user-friendly, open-source software that helps Californians see the money behind their elections, including tools such as Power Search and the Quick Guide to Props. We continue to produce new tools that make it easy for journalists, researchers, and the public to search and visualize statewide campaign contributions and independent expenditures.

Advance reforms
that work

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MapLight improves our democracy by developing policy solutions to hidden political influences and supporting efforts to reform political processes. From illuminating money in politics to countering digital deception, we’re working to make our elections more transparent and equitable.

Digital Deception Solutions

Led by former Federal Election Commission Chair Ann Ravel, MapLight advances policy solutions to digital deception (the use of social media and digital tools to spread political disinformation and manipulate public opinion). We also publish the Digital Deception Decoder, a weekly newsletter that highlights the most important news, analysis, and research on online political manipulation in the United States.

Data for Democracy

We provide free data analysis, messaging support, and consulting services to activists around the country seeking to transform their local elections by passing disclosure laws, campaign contribution limits, small donor public funding systems, and other meaningful reforms.