Bank like a financial pro with the Alliant mobile app. Make payments, deposit checks, manage cards and so much more.
Renovate your kitchen, pay off high-interest debt, or have access to emergency funds when you need it with an Alliant Home Equity Line of Credit.
Browse new and used vehicle inventory, and qualify for a rate discount when you buy!81
Separate each of your savings goals into an Alliant Supplemental Savings Account so you can visualize your progress.
By Maggie Tomasek
Elections are expensive. They cost money, time and energy – and they may even cost you a Facebook friend or two.
But when it comes to the actual dollars and cents, just how expensive are national elections? Let’s take a look.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which compiled data from the Federal Election Commission’s October 11 report, during the 2015–2016 election cycle:
Why is the spending this year so much lower than for the 2012 election? Keep in mind that the biggest advertising barrage tends to occur in the last few weeks before the election, so a sizable portion of ad spending hasn’t happened yet. Also, TV advertisting spending overall is significantly lower than in the last election. According to Forbes magazine, TV ad spending from mid-August to mid-September is down more than 40% versus the same time period in the 2012 election cycle.
But still, the $1.8 billion that has been spent so far is a lot of money. So where does it all go? Many people think advertising is the only major cost that candidates incur, but there is so much more. Things like payroll for campaign staff, rent (that staff needs somewhere to work, after all), insurance, office supplies and travel – not to mention all that campaign swag, such as T-shirts, hats and yard signs – really add up.
About 1.2 million Americans have donated more than $200 to individual campaigns this election cycle, according to the most recent FEC filings. (Donations less than $200 don’t have to be reported to the FEC.)
Individuals can donate up to $2,700 per candidate per election. However, campaign contributions made to a political candidate, campaign committee or newsletter fund are not tax deductible, and neither are admissions to fundraiser events for candidates or political parties.
Although individuals can’t write off campaign contributions, they can set aside $3 of their taxes to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund on their 1040 federal income tax return.
What about the costs of administering an election? Ballots and voting machines cost money, but figuring out the exact costs can be trickier, in large part because several levels of government are involved in running and paying for elections. Plus, every state’s laws and practices are a little different, so it’s hard to pin down election administration costs, even for a federal election.
In 2002, Congress established the Election Assistance Commission under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which required states to establish statewide voter registration databases while providing funds to state and local voting districts. HAVA funds are used to pay for upgrading voting machines, registering voters, providing provisional voting options and implementing other election administration improvements, such as training for election officials and poll workers, polling place accessibility advances and information on how and where to vote.
Between 2003 and September 30, 2015, states spent nearly $3.2 billion in HAVA funds, according to the Election Assistance Commission. At $26.2 million, California has spent the most, which makes sense, considering it also has the largest population and the most electoral votes (55).
Even after taking into account all of these costs, don’t forget that the most important thing anyone can do in an election is vote – and that’s still free.
Maggie Tomasek is the PR and Content Strategist at Alliant. She began her career as a sports journalist for newspapers in Utica, N.Y., Des Moines and Cincinnati before moving to Chicago in 2009. Maggie is an eight-time Chicago Marathon finisher and a lifelong creative writer with a passion for comedy. Her mom instilled in her a great sense of fiscal responsibility, and her big sister told her to throw that responsibility out the window every once in a while in the name of life experience. So far, that combination of financial advice has worked out pretty well for her.
Get even more personal finance info, tips and tricks delivered right to your inbox each month.
Thanks for subscribing to Alliant's Money Mentor newsletter! You will now receive personal finance tips in your email inbox each month.
You are leaving Alliant’s website to enter a website hosted by an organization separate from Alliant Credit Union. The products and services on this website are being offered through LPL Financial or its affiliates, which are separate entities from, and not affiliates of, Alliant Credit Union.The privacy and security policies of the site may differ from those of Alliant Credit Union.
You are leaving an Alliant Credit Union website and are about to enter a website operated by a third-party, independent from Alliant Credit Union. Alliant Credit Union does not manage the operation or content of the website you are about to enter. Alliant Credit Union is not responsible for the content and does not provide any products or services at this third-party website. The privacy and security policies of the site may differ from those of Alliant Credit Union.