FAQ

Accounts and Logging in

Why do you ask for my email and other information when I create an account?

Accounts are required in order to set up a Portfolio, and from Portfolios you can donate to the candidates who reflect your values. All campaign donations made through Elect535  are subject to FEC campaign finance rules, which requires candidates to track names, address, and employers of all donors.  That’s why we ask you for that information when you create an account on Elect535.

How do I create an account?

Simply click the “Join” button at the top of the Elect535  screen and answer a few brief questions. Once your account is confirmed,  you will see a “My Portfolio” icon at the top of the Elect535  screen. Now you can easily add and remove the candidates of your choice -- right from their Profile cards -- to your personalized Portfolio. A Portfolio allows you to track your candidates and support them: financially, by volunteering your time, or both.

How do I reset my password?

If you have forgotten your password, simply click the “Forgot your password” button at the bottom of the “Sign in” page, and a temporary password will be emailed to the account on file with Elect535.

Data and Content

Where does your data come from?

Our volunteers are combing through publicly available sources on a regular basis to create the most complete and current data summaries that we possibly can.Information about financial disclosures are drawn from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website, and are updated as candidates update their information with the FEC.  All other data is gathered from reputable sources accessible to the public, aggregated and collated by our bank of volunteers. The Elect535 profiles provide you with tons of information to analyze a candidate through a variety of metrics. Some of these terms may be new to you, so we encourage you to take a look at our data dictionary for background and explanation.  

Where does Elect535 get the biographical information for its candidates?

Elect535 provides short biographies for each candidate. The bios are all produced in house, and are compiled from the candidate’s website, Federal Election Commission (FEC) data, and reputable 3rd party sources including VoteSmart, Govtrack, and others.

How often are the financial data updated?

Candidates are required to file their financial disclosures with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) at the end of each fiscal quarter.  The FEC updates their publically available data 30 days after the close of each quarter. We update our profiles based on those data as soon as they are available.  

How often are the financial data updated?

Candidates are required to file their financial disclosures with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) at the end of each fiscal quarter.  The FEC updates their publically available data 30 days after the close of each quarter. We update our profiles based on those data as soon as they are available.  

How is the conservative rating calculated?

The conservative rating is based on analysis done by GovTrack (www.govtrack.us).  You can learn about their methodology here.  

All ratings are presented on a score of 1 to 10, where 10 is the most progressive and 1 is the most conservative position.  Ratings are only available for incumbent candidates, as they are based on the politician’s actions while in office.

How are the gun safety ratings calculated?

The gun safety rating is based the National Rifle Association rating posted by VoteSmart (www.VoteSmart.com).  

All ratings are presented on a score of 1 to 10, where 10 is the most progressive and 1 is the most conservative position.  Ratings are only available for incumbent candidates, as they are based on the politician’s actions while in office.

How are the environmental ratings calculated?

The environmental rating is based the League of Conservation Voters rating as posted by VoteSmart (www.VoteSmart.com).  

All ratings are presented on a score of 1 to 10, where 10 is the most progressive and 1 is the most conservative position.  

Here’s an example.  Democrat Katherine Clark received a rating of 96% from the League of Conservation Voter in the category “National Environmental Scorecard Lifetime” rating.  That translates to a score of 10 in the Elect535 environmental rating.

Ratings are only available for incumbent candidates, as they are based on the politician’s actions while in office.

How are the reproductive rights ratings calculated?

The reproductive rights rating is based the NARAL rating as posted by VoteSmart (www.VoteSmart.com).    

All ratings are presented on a score of 1 to 10, where 10 is the most progressive and 1 is the most conservative position.  

Here’s an example.  Democrat Katherine Clark received a rating of 100% from NARAL ProChoice America for her positions on abortion.  That translates to a score of 10 in the Elect535 reproductive rights ratings.

Ratings are only available for incumbent candidates, as they are based on the politician’s actions while in office

Donations

Does Elect535 collect any transaction fees?

We encourage everyone to use Elect535 to learn about candidates and to create a portfolio of candidates worthy of support.  That is entirely free and easy to do on Elect535. 

When you choose to make a donation to a candidate of your choice, 4% of the donation goes to Democracy Engine, the payment processor handling political contributions. This covers their credit card processing fees and the inftastructure required to manage of all the details to make donations FEC compliant. Additionally you have an opportunity to add a "tip" to your donation that goes to Elect535.  This supports the the Elect535 infrastructure. There is a suggested tip amount of 5%.  You are free to give what you choose.

Do my donations comply with Federal Election Commission (FEC) law?

Yes, absolutely!  This is very important to us.   All campaign donations made through Elect535 are subject to FEC campaign finance rules, which requires candidates to track names, address, and employers of all donors.  That’s why we ask you for that information when you create an account on Elect535.

For purposes of campaign finance regulation, donations made through Elect535 are direct donations from you, the donor, to the candidate.  

  

What happens when I make a donation on Elect535?

When a donation is made through our site, our processing partner Democracy Engine sends that money directly to the campaign and includes your donor information so as to be compliant with all campaign finance regulations.

When you donate to a portfolio of candidates, it is automatically split up between all of the recipients in the amounts you specify. While you only have to enter your information once, you are actually making multiple contributions, one to each campaign. On your credit card statement, you will see one charge for each candidate you have chosen to support in your portfolio.

Do donations go immediately to the candidate?

When you click the “Donate” button, your donation request goes directly to Democracy Engine.  If the candidate has set up direct deposit with Democracy Engine, their office should receive your donation within 24 hours.  If the candidate has not set up direct deposit with Democracy Engine, their office will receive a check in the mail for the amount of your donation.

Please feel free to refer to the Democracy Engine website for further detail.

 

Does the candidate know that the contribution comes from me?

Yes, they do!  This is very important to us.  All campaign donations are subject to FEC campaign finance rules, which requires candidates to track all information about names, address, and employers of their donors.  That’s why we ask for those data in your profile.

Your candidate will know the contribution comes from you, and we are sure they will be very appreciative!

Can I make a recurring donation?

We are so glad you asked.  You will be able to shortly.  We want to make that capability available as soon as possible.  It is not implemented just yet.

Can I cancel my donation or pledge?

If you have set up a recurring donation (not yet implemented), you can cancel at any time.

If you have just made a one-time donation and changed your mind or realized you have made a mistake, we are so sorry that happened!  You can contact Democracy Engine or your credit card company to inquire about stopping the charge.  Please email us at info@elect535.org if you think we might be able to assist in any way. We will certainly want to know of your experience.   

 

What is the minimum contribution that I can make?

The minimum donation to any individual candidate is $5.  The minimum transaction is $10, so if you want to donate $5 to one candidate this is your chance to choose one more that is worthy of your attention.

We love the small donations!  Every little bit counts. What we may lack in volume, we hope to make up in quantity.  Please invite all your friends to donate to your portfolio as well!

Can I donate different amounts to candidates in my portfolio?

Yes, absolutely.  You can select the amount you want to donate to each candidate in your portfolio.  They don’t have to be all the same.

Why can I only contribute to some candidates?

Elect535 provides profiles of all candidates running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.   We provide our service in support of electing candidates who will advance an agenda that better represents all of us, and those are the candidates that you can contribute to on this site.

What payment methods do you support?

Donations made through Elect535 are processed by a third-party, Democracy Engine.  Democracy Engine accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and E-Checks.  They do not accept PayPal.

Why do my donations to the candidates in my portfolio show us as multiple charges on my credit card statement?

When you donate to a portfolio of candidates, your donation is automatically split up into individual donations to each of your candidates in the amounts you specify.  This is to be sure that your donation complies with Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations.

While you only have to enter your information once, you are actually making multiple contributions which will be presented as such on your credit card statement.

 

Am I eligible to make donations

Any individual who is a US citizen or permanent resident is legally eligible to donate to candidates for federal office.  For more information about eligibility for donations visit the FEC website.

 

 

For Candidates

How do I receive the donations made to my campaign through Elect535?

Donation requests made to your campaign by users of Elect535 go directly to Democracy Engine.  If you have direct deposit set up with Democracy Engine, you should receive your donation(s) -- along with all FEC-compliant information -- within 24 hours. If you do not have direct deposit enabled with Democracy Engine, checks/FEC-compliant information are mailed weekly. To find out more about setting up direct deposit with Democracy Engine, please visit their site.

How do I correct an error I see in my profile?

Our volunteers do their best to keep our data current and accurate, so we appreciate your alerting us if you do see something that is questionable. Please email us at data@elect535.org.   We will research and attempt to rectify the error as soon as we can.

 

Can I provide updates to my biography on the site?

In an effort to remain non-partisan and objective, our volunteers write all of our biographical profiles.  Please alert us if there is a factual error or if we have missed some key points.  Send clear and concise bullet point(s) that provide us with corrected information/key points you are requesting us to add to data@elect535.org.  There is no need to send us prose as our volunteers write all non-partisan profiles.

For Press

Do you have a media/press kit?

    A media kit is currently under development. For questions, please contact info@elect535.org

Who do I reach out to with press inquiries?

Thank you very much for your interest!  Please email us at info@elect535.org.  We will be very pleased to hear from you.  

 

General Information

What is Elect535?

Elect535 is an innovative electoral tool that provides “one-stop shopping” for comprehensive information on all U.S. Senate and House of Representatives candidates. Finding candidates you are excited to support -- based on the criteria that matter most to you -- is as simple as “point-and-click.”

Looking for candidates in a certain geographic region or a specific state? Are you most interested in supporting candidates with a specific demographic profile? Or are you intent on finding candidates who champion issues that you care the most about, like the environment or gun safety? Elect535 makes it easy to search for candidates based on multiple filters, add and track your dream candidates in your own personalized portfolio (just like a stock portfolio),  and support these candidates, financially and by volunteering your time.

How do I use this site?

You can use the “Quick Search” function in the middle of the Elect535  home page to find all U.S. House of Representatives candidates for the 2018 midterms by name, or use the “Candidates” link to see all candidates or to search candidates by theme (Vote Vets, Latino Power, Gun Safety, etc.).

If you choose to see all candidates or search by theme, you are able to refine those searches further by state, district, PVI (partisan voter index), cash on hand, and numerous other filters, allowing you to find and support candidates that embody your ideal “wish list.” 

Once you have a slate of candidates that make up your dream team, you’ll want to add them to your Portfolio. Setting up your  Portfolio requires you to create a basic account on Elect435. Simply click the “Join” button at the top of the Elect435 screen and answer a few brief questions. Once your account is confirmed,  you will see a “My Portfolio” icon at the top of the Elect535 screen: Now you can easily add and remove candidates -- right from their Profile cards -- to your personalized Portfolio. A Portfolio allows you to track your candidates and support them: financially, by volunteering your time, or both.

How does Elect535 support its work?

Although it is free to search Elect535 for U.S. Congressional candidates -- and create your own customized portfolio of the candidates who reflect your values -- a small fee is charged for donations made to candidates through this site in order to handle processing costs.

Elect535 also accepts outright donations from users: 100% of these donations goes to maintaining, enhancing, and marketing of this site. Like what you see? We appreciate your support!

 

Is Elect535 a PAC?

Elect535  is a benefit corporation, not a PAC. We strictly adhere to Federal Election Commission (FEC) guidelines. The organization does not make political donations to campaigns, nor provide any direct kind of services to the campaign.  

We serve as a conduit between candidates for the U.S. Congress and concerned citizens who want to see a Congress that will represent all of us. We connect great candidates to the resources they need, and  we connect people who want to change congress to great candidates who need their support.

Is Elect535 a partisan organization?

While Elect535 is not a “partisan organization,” it definitely has progressive roots.  Elect535 was founded by a team of concerned citizens, and grew out of the Indivisible movement in Lexington, MA after the 2016 elections.  Its founders recognized that the problems we face go beyond Trump: our system of representative government is flawed and needs the involvement of citizens across the country to provide resources to the best candidates who will represent the citizenry at large versus special interests that have been pouring money into campaigns.   

These special interests have large resources to research and support candidates,  so we need a tool that levels the playing field and allows the individual citizen to throw his or her support into the political arena -- equally and just as easily. Although we are progressive, we are strictly not affiliated with the Democratic party or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

What kind of candidates can I support?

Elect435 provides a pathway for users to support any U.S. House of Representatives candidate who aligns with their values.  

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What If I don’t see my question here?

Please send us a note at info@elect535.org to let us know how we can improve our FAQ.  We would love to hear from you. 

 

Portfolios

Can I create more than one portfolio?

If you are able to create user accounts with different email addresses, you can maintain one portfolio for each of those email addresses.  

Our system can maintain one portfolio for any given email address.  There is no limit to the number of candidates you can include in any one portfolio.  

Can I share my portfolio with other people?

Please do!  We are working on adding capabilities to support this even as we speak.

Our plan is let you create a group and invite others to the group, so you can all support a shared portfolio of candidates.  Stay tuned.

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a set of candidates that you want to support. You can have any number of candidates in your portfolio.