The world outside Raleigh has grown accustomed to using the Internet for everything from ordering books to paying bills to filing taxes. It’s time for North Carolina legislators to join the 21st century by filing campaign finance reports electronically.
A bill that passed the N.C. House last year would require legislative candidates and political action committees receiving more than $10,000 to report those contributions online. Presidential candidates and U.S. House candidates already have to file campaign finance reports electronically.
Requiring North Carolina legislators to do the same would bring better speed and efficiency to the financial reporting process. It also would open the public’s eyes to who is contributing heavily to the people who make important decisions in state government.
Under current rules, lawmakers have the option to file such reports online, but more than half continue to file paper reports. Not only is the paper process slow and tedious, it also is open to mistakes and guesswork when handwritten reports come in illegible.
With 21st century technology, we’re way past the days when handwritten reports should be the norm. Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, has complained that years can go by before the N.C. State Board of Elections gets around to inputting data from the reports.
There’s no excuse for that kind of delay. The bill passed the House last year with bipartisan support. It’s now in the hands of the N.C. Senate Rules Committee.
Here’s hoping the Senate sees the wisdom and need for this legislation.