County supervisors vote to require electronic campaign finance data

New electronic-filing rule for candidates in Los Angeles County will be in place by July 31

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to require candidates to file their campaign finance reports electronically, allowing the public to see them quicker.

The supervisors -- with the exception of Gloria Molina, who was absent -- voted unanimously in favor of the new rule, which county officials said would be in place by July 31, the first filing deadline for November's runoff election.

An increasing number of California cities and counties require candidates to file electronic reports showing who has given money to their campaign, but it has remained optional in Los Angeles County until now. In many cases, county election employees must first enter the information by hand from lengthy paper reports before it can be posted in a searchable online system.

And even candidates who file electronically must also file a paper copy. Workers in the county registrar-recorder's office check the online version against the official paper record, which creates delays in posting.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky proposed modernizing the system after a Times report pointed out long delays in campaign finance information being posted online. Many of the candidates running for sheriff, assessor and two open supervisor seats had complained about the lack of readily available information.

"This is something that should have been done a long time ago," Yaroslavsky said Tuesday. "I think it will serve everyone well. It will ensure transparency and timely transparency."

The requirement will apply to campaigns for county seats or ballot measures that raise or spend at least $10,000. County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan said the threshold is the same one set by the city of Los Angeles and should ensure that small campaigns are not unduly burdened by the requirement.

Candidates above that threshold typically hire professional treasurers who, in many cases, already have experience with electronic filings.

"We believe and our experience has been that campaigns that are at that level of spending and contributions are dealing with an infrastructure in their campaign that can and does deal with this type of electronic filing," Logan said.

Logan said workers in his office will notify all current candidates of the new requirement and offer technical support if needed.

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