Raising all this money is time-consuming for candidates and can make running for office out of reach for people who lack resources or access to big donors.
But some states offer public campaign funding to candidates who meet certain conditions — typically raising some amount of small donations (some cities, like Seattle, also have their own public financing systems for municipal candidates).
The end result? More Americans participate in elections and try running for office.
Here’s how the 13 states who offer public funding for campaigns do it.
Arizona offers public campaign financing for all legislative and statewide offices.
You qualify for public funding by collecting $5 contributions from Arizonans; the number varies depending on which office you’re seeking. For example, you need to collect 200 $5 contributions to qualify for public funding to run for the legislature.
Connecticut’s public financing is open to all legislative and statewide offices.
You qualify for public funding by collecting a minimum number of qualifying contributions that add up to a required aggregate amount of money. Those numbers vary across public offices, but state representative candidates need to raise $5,800 in contributions; at least 150 residents from municipalities that are in your district must contribute.
Florida’s public financing system is only available for candidates for statewide offices such as governor, lieutenant governor and cabinet members.
Gubernatorial candidates have to collect $150,000 in contributions before public funds are made available to them. Cabinet members have to reach a lower threshold — $100,000.
Hawaii’s public financing system is available for a range of races, from those seeking the office of governor to mayoral candidates.
The minimum amount of money from qualifying contributions you have to raise differs for each office. For the state House, you have to raise at least $1,500. The amount of public funding you receive, however, varies by district.
Maine’s public financing system is available to candidates running for governor and the legislature.
Candidates have to first obtain a qualifying number of $5 contributions — 60 for state House, for instance — and then they will gain access to public funds.
Maryland’s system of public financing is open only to candidates for governor or lieutenant governor.
The gubernatorial ticket has to raise at least 1,500 private contributions and a total of $120,000 during the qualifying period in order to qualify for public funds.
Massachusetts’ public financing system is only available to candidates running for statewide office.
The amount of qualifying contributions varies by office, but candidates running for governor and lieutenant governor have to raise at least $125,000 before they qualify.
Michigan’s public financing system applies only to one position: governor.
Gubernatorial candidates can access public funding by raising at least $75,000 in qualifying contributions.
Minnesota has public financing available for both legislative and statewide candidates.
The amount of qualifying money you need to raise before accessing public funds varies by office, but candidates for state House must raise at least $1,500.
New Jersey’s public financing system is only for gubernatorial candidates.
Campaigns must raise a certain amount of money to receive public funds. The qualification threshold for those candidates in 2021 was $490,000.
New Mexico’s public financing program is only open to a few select positions, such as the judiciary.
To qualify for public financing, candidates have to hit minimum numbers of qualified contributions and amount raised. In the Second Judicial District, for instance, the minimum number of qualifying contributions is 400 and the minimum amount raised is $2,000.
Rhode Island’s public financing system applies to statewide offices.
Gubernatorial candidates, for instance, have to raise a minimum of $259,600 from at least 250 people who give at least $25 each in order to qualify for public financing.
Vermont’s public financing system is only open to candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.
Candidates for governor have to raise at least $35,000 from at least 1,500 donors to qualify for public financing.
West Virginia’s public financing system applies only to Supreme Court races.
Candidates have to collect 350 to 500 contributions of $100 or less in order to qualify for the program.