Project to expand access to elections records

LANSING (AP) -- A partnership involving Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson as well as clerks in Macomb and Kalamazoo counties will offer expanded online campaign-finance information for local candidates and ballot questions, officials said.

The public already has access to campaign finance reports of statewide candidates through the Secretary of State's website, but reports filed by local candidates in Kalamazoo County, for example, can only be seen by going through paper filings, the Kalamazoo Gazette (http://bit.ly/1qdmR5y ) reported.

Candidates for government office are required to file pre-election and postelection reports on campaign contributions and expenses. The program also will allow candidates for local office to file their campaign finance reports electronically instead of turning in hard copies.

Fred Woodhams, a spokesman in Johnson's office, said the program seeks to make campaign-finance statements more readily available. Woodhams said the program is expected to launch later this year and could be expanded to statewide by early 2015.

"Currently, some clerks do offer reports in a PDF version, paper reports that are online," Woodhams said. "The goal with this program is to provide that level of transparency and accountability that the public has come to expect at the statewide level."

There wasn't a specific reason that Kalamazoo and Macomb counties were selected, Woodhams said, but he noted that Johnson wanted to work with two larger counties to ensure any bugs could be worked out before launching the program statewide.

Kalamazoo County Clerk Tim Snow said the pilot program works well with other related efforts in his office. He's is developing a system to work on a separate system that will allow the public to search past campaign finance reports of active candidate committees.

"I think they know I have an interest, so I was glad to be asked to participate," he said.

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Online:

http://www.michigan.gov/sos.

Published: Wed, Apr 9, 2014

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