Lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow them to stop using an electronic filing system for campaign expenses.
State law requires candidates for legislative and statewide offices to file campaign finance reports electronically. However, state Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) says the current system is too slow and complex, with it often taking several hours to file reports. He says it’s been very difficult for experienced treasurers to do their job since it went online earlier this year.
Hansen is sponsoring a bill that would give candidates the option of filing paper versions of their reports, instead of using the electronic system. The Green Bay Democrat worries the current requirement could prevent fresh candidates from running for office, since they could be discouraged by the complex system.
The electronic filing system has drawn criticism for months, with lawmakers worried about long delays in uploading reports. Watchdog groups have also reported numerous errors in the database.
Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy, which operates the system, does not oppose the bill. However, at a Capitol hearing this week, he expressed concerns about the bill allowing any campaign to file by paper. He says that could prompt large campaigns with millions of dollars in donations and expenditures to file by paper, which would then have to be manually entered into the system. Kennedy blames many of the currently present errors on data entry mistakes.
The bill is being considered by a Senate committee.