Why Can't Senate Candidates File Their Campaign Finance Reports Electronically Like Everyone Else?

The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act should be a fairly simple and wholly non-controversial bill, even by Congressional standards. The bill would place the same requirements on Senate candidates that have been in place for House and Presidential candidates for over a decade: File public campaign finance disclosure reports electronically with the FEC.

Of course, this is Congress. So even the support of 50 non-partisan cosponsors of the bill's latest inclination — S.375, introduced by Jon Tester, D-Montana — probably won't be enough to leap Mitch McConnell's tireless hurdles. Who cares if some version of the bill has been introduced to every Senate since 2003? Where there's a will, there's a way to block it.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, which is making the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act a big part of its Transparency September mission, McConnell's "intransigence results in delayed disclosure of vital, public campaign finance information, not to mention [wastes] $500,00 in taxpayer money annually."

The benefits of going electronic are numerous — and obvious. Filing online means near immediate access to campaign records, so voters can understand which companies are footing the bill for their local wannabe lawmaker to stump, speech and blanket television commercial breaks before the election. As it is now, many of those records don't clear the paper process until months after voters have made their decisions. The internet is the superhighway, while the paper route is cruising on a Huffy with a rusty chain.

Secondly, paper costs more money than electronic files. Despite what the IRS says, it's easier to lose or destroy what can't be backed up on a flash drive.

The system is already in place for prospective members of the House or Oval Office, why can't the Senate join the 21st century?

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Brandon Perkins
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