Following a report in The Times about long delays in posting campaign finance information online in the county’s system, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky moved Tuesday to require all candidates to file their reports electronically.
Such a requirement would allow the public to more quickly and easily see who is making contributions to county races.
While many cities and counties require candidates to file electronic reports showing their contributors, it remains optional in Los Angeles County. 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.
Even when candidates choose to file an electronic version, they must also file a paper copy. Workers in the county registrar-recorder's office check the online version against the official paper record, which sometimes adds to the delay in posting.
That leads to increased staff costs to manually enter data and “does not facilitate optimal and immediate viewing of campaign information by the public,” Yaroslavsky said.
Updating filing requirements "kind of fell through the cracks” because there were so few competitive county races in recent decades, he said. That is changing with newly effective term limits.
“Now we have a bunch of competitive elections, and it’s been raised as an issue, and rightly so,” Yaroslavsky said. He pointed out that most professional campaign treasurers are already equipped to file electronic reports. Candidates who raise less than $1,000 would not be required to file electronically.
"This should not be a problem for anybody, and it does give instantaneous accessibility and transparency to the public," he said.
Voters will cast ballots for two new supervisors, a new sheriff and a new assessor in June’s primary election, with a runoff likely in some of the races. The board is slated to vote on the proposal to require electronic reporting next week.
If approved, the new system would be in place in time for the November runoff election, Yaroslavsky said.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times