Presidential election Commission

Federal Election Commission, United States of America (logo). Link to FEC Home Page
  • Public funding has played a role in every presidential election cycle since 1976. A public funding law was passed in 1966, but was later repealed. Following that, the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, (FECA) and the Revenue Act (establishing the Presidential Fund and allowing taxpayers to designate one of their tax dollars to finance presidential elections) were passed in 1971. It was not until 1974, however, that amendments to the FECA established the system and spending limits for publicly financed presidential elections.
  • In 1994, Congress increased the individual tax check-off amount from $1 to its present level of $3.
  • The FEC administers the program, which involves determining which candidates are eligible and the amount to which they are entitled, and auditing their use of funds. (All campaigns receiving public funds are audited by the Commission.) The Treasury Department makes the payouts to the campaigns.
  • Under the existing system, payouts are indexed to inflation (the increase in the Consumer Price Index or CPI, over 1974, also referred to as a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA) while the $3 contributions are fixed. At the same time, participation in the tax check-off program has declined each year, from a high of 28.7% for 1980 returns, to 6.4% for returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2012. Money for public funding of presidential elections can come only from the Presidential Fund. If the Presidential Fund runs short of funds, no other general Treasury funds may be used.


We have prepared a chart that tracks the status of the Presidential Fund from its inception to the present. It includes monthly deposits into the Fund reported by the Treasury Department, payments from the Fund certified by the FEC, and participation rates for taxpayers as reported by the IRS.

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Popular Q&A

Which presidential election was decided by a special commission formed to determine the status of disputed electoral votes

The Election of 1876; between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden.

Why was a special commission needed to decide the presidential election of 1876

The independent resigned and a Republican took his place. After examining the reports of sate review boards, the commission voted 8 to 7 to award all 20 disputed votes, and the election, to Hayes. on!

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