How to Run under OAE

A yellow rose with the words "Open & Accountable Elections" circling the top half of the rose
This is the step-by-step guide for how a candidate can participate in Open and Accountable Elections, and have their donations matched six-to-one by the City of Portland. For more information, please refer to the Candidate Guide.

How to run under Open and Accountable Elections

Step 1: Comply with the rules

The rules for the next cycle will be in effect as of December 18th, 2020. So if candidates are interested in running in the 2022 election, they must ensure that they are in compliance by December 18th, 2020. Potential candidates must:

  • Have only one campaign bank account
  • Have paid back all pre-existing campaign debt
  • Have accepted a maximum of $5000 total between Dec 1st 2020 and when they file their Notice of Intent

Other rules can be found in the Candidate Guide, and in the Administrative Rules. And you can read the OAE law itself by clicking here.

Step 2: File the Notice of Intent and take the mandatory training

In order to officially register for the Open and Accountable Elections program, candidates must submit their Notice of Intent to our office. They must also include their ACH Authorization, a W-9 form, and a voided check from the campaign bank account. Once candidates file this form, their participation in the program will be noted publicly on the Open and Accountable Elections website. 

Candidates and their treasurers are required to take a training with OAE staff. The training can be given either remotely or in-person, are confidential, and the candidate can invite other members of their campaign team. Please contact Deputy Director Daniel Lewkow at to schedule a training.

Only once they complete Step 2 can candidates begin to raise money for their campaign. The only exception is Seed Funding, in which candidates can raise up to $5,000 total from any source before filing their Notice of Intent.

Step 3: Raise the qualifying contributions

Candidates for office must raise a certain number of contributions to qualify for public matching under Open and Accountable Elections

  • Candidates for mayor must raise at least $5,000 from at least 500 donors
  • Candidates for commissioner or auditor must raise at least $2,500 from at least 250 donors 

Candidates must raise the required number of contributions from individuals living in the City of Portland. They can raise funds from donors living outside of Portland, but only donations from Portland residents count towards the qualifying requirement. Our office recommends raising more than the required number, so as to ensure that they have cleared the threshold. Please refer to the Candidate Guide for information about the rules on how candidates can raise qualifying contributions.

Step 4: Report all contributions and expenditures

Transparency is a crucial value for the Open and Accountable Elections program. In order to participate, candidates must report their contributions and expenditures to our office every 14 days. This is a separate reporting process from the Oregon Secretary of State's process. Staff will provide each campaign with a log-in to two websites to allow for fast and simple reporting.  

When submitted cash or money order contributions, you must submit this cash attestation form

Here is the 2022 reporting schedule.

Step 5: Apply for certification 

Once candidates have collected the required number of qualifying contributions, they can then apply for certification. If approved, our office will match both future donations from Portland residents six-to-one as well as the qualifying contributions that the candidate has already collected. To be certified, candidates must have:

  • Collected the required qualifying donations
  • Filed for office by collecting signatures on the nominating petition. Please connect with the Portland Elections Office for information about how to file by nominating petition
  • Reported all contributions and expenditures to the Office of Open and Accountable Elections
  • Followed the program rules

Candidates may only file for certification one time. Our office encourages candidates to ask for an informal assessment before applying for certification, so that our staff can update the campaign on how many qualifying contributions we have verified.

Step 6: Continue raising money and getting matched

If a candidate has been certified, then our office will match donations six-to-one. This can allow candidates without networks of wealthy donors to raise enough funding to be competitive. To be matched, donations must be:

  • From a Portland resident, verified to be living at their address
  • From an individual
  • From a person at least 18 years old
  • Accompanied by an attestation document (if cash or money order, using this form)
  • From a donor who's donation did not already get matched to a candidate in the same race

Our office will direct deposit the funds into the candidate's account every two weeks. It is a fast and responsive process that allows candidates to access their funds quickly

  • For the Primary, mayoral candidates can raise up to $380,000 total, and of that the Open and Accountable Elections program can provide up to $304,000 in matching funds. In the General, mayoral candidates can raise $570,000, with $456,000 coming in matching funds
  • For the Primary, commissioner and auditor candidates can raise up to $250,000 total, and of that the Open and Accountable Elections program can provide up to $200,000 in matching funds. In the General, commissioner and auditor candidates can raise $300,000, with $240,000 coming in matching funds

Step 7: Return unused public funds

After the election, candidates who won the Primary outright or did not make it to the General election must return any unspent public funds to the Office of Open and Accountable Elections. Candidates need to pay outstanding expenses and then return unspent public funds. This is calculated proportionally. 

Here is the form that candidates must provide to return unspent public funds.


Susan Mottet

Director, Small Donor Elections

Daniel Lewkow

Deputy Director, Small Donor Elections