Sunlight on Senate E-Filing

Sept. 12, 2015, 2:47 p.m.

Electronic Filing (or e-Filing) refers to the long-sought Sunlight goal to streamline the campaign finance disclosure process through online access to information. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is charged with public disclosure of campaign finance information and must trudge through candidate filing documents, often written by hand. This duplication of data entry increases errors and slows a process that has significant interest in being more timely, especially around election season.

House and Presidential candidates have been required to e-file for years, enabling the FEC to save taxpayer dollars with a quick turnaround of approximately 48 hours. By contrast, the Senate’s reluctance to adopt electronic filing leads to delays of up to 30 days, hampering the usefulness of the data.

The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act (S.366), the bill supporting electronic filing, enjoys bipartisan support but still has not passed after five separate congresses have brought forward the issue. We believe strengthening the public’s online access to campaign finance data will better inform voters before they go to vote and improve compliance and enforcement of the law.