FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 3, 2015
Macomb County Clerk announces plan to require large county and local campaign committees to file donors and expenses electronically
Committees that are required to file campaign finance reports with the Macomb County Clerk’s office may soon file those reports electronically, under a plan by the Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds.
The Macomb County Clerk is taking advantage of a recent amendment to the Michigan Campaign Finance Act that allows County Clerks to accept campaign finance reports electronically. Under the statute, the county clerk may require committees to file reports electronically if the committee received or spent more than a threshold of $1,500 or a threshold of $5,000 in the preceding year or expects to do so. The Macomb County Clerk chose the $5,000 amount to mirror the level established in law for committees filing on the state level. Macomb County has 637 registered campaign committees, of which 133 spent or received more than $5,000 as of August 2015.
“While I plan to require all county and local campaign committees that spent or received $5,000 or more in the last year to file statements electronically, we are designing the system to be user-friendly to encourage committees under the $5,000 threshold to use it as well,” said the Macomb County Clerk.
Electronic filing will allow committees to file statements more easily as opposed to the current paper-based filing system. It will also make it easier for committees to comply with donation and spending limits by flagging potential issues.
The Macomb County Clerk expects the system to be ready for the July 2016 pre-primary campaign finance filing deadline. “The time is now to modernize how we file county and local campaign finance reports.” The Macomb County Clerk said.
The public will benefit with enhanced search capability of contributions and expenditures. The Macomb County Clerk’s current system allows detailed search functionality of county and local contributions, but not expenditures. “Letting the public know how candidates and PACs spend money is important,” the Macomb County Clerk noted.
Rich Robinson, Executive Director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a Lansing-based nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog organization, said, “Once again, Macomb County is taking an important step to make government more open and accountable. The new reporting system will make it easier for the people and the press to monitor campaign contributions, donors and officeholders.”
The Macomb County Clerk said it was a meeting earlier this year with Macomb County Commission Chair Dave Flynn and Commissioner Steve Marino that was key to moving this project forward.
“The Board of Commissioners has worked to create an environment of governmental transparency. The Clerk’s campaign finance system is a shining example of this by making information on county and local campaign contributions and expenditures more accessible to the public while making it easier for campaigns to comply with the law,” said Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chairman David Flynn.
The county purchased the initial system through competitive bids from Consulting Engineering Associates, Inc. in 2004 for a one-time cost of $259,600. The county has paid $10,000 annually for maintenance and support since 2014. The proposed efiling enhancement was placed in the county’s public bid process and Campaign Finance U.S., LLC, a spinoff of CEA, Inc., was by far the lowest bidder. The proposed electronic filing component will cost $10,000 per year. Plans are to pay for it from the Macomb County Capital Plan.
Macomb County campaign finance reports may be viewed HERE, including lists of campaign donors and contribution amounts.
“Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett deserves credit for leading the way on this issue,” said the Macomb County Clerk. “Wayne County currently accepts electronic filing of campaign finance reports.”
This is another in a long list of accomplishments for the Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds who has received 59 National Association of Counties “good government” awards during her career for creating innovative programs to improve service. The Macomb County Clerk’s election services reforms, include:
- Competitively bidding election supplies, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Implementing an online anti-fraud absent voter tracking system to let voter track their absentee ballots and confirm local
- clerks receive it in time to be counted.
- Hiring student election inspectors, letting students learn and earn, and training a new generation of poll workers.
- Placing Macomb County among the most accountable in Michigan by putting county and local candidates' campaign finance reports on the Internet free of charge.
- Promoting absent voting to those legally entitled to do so, including making it easier for overseas military members to cast an absent voter ballot.
- Posting a “naughty list” online of those who owe fines to the county for campaign finance law violations.
- Accepting fax filing for campaign finance reports and payments.
- Receiving National Association of Counties “good government” awards for campaign finance workshops, putting campaign finance reports on the Web, student election inspectors, and the online absent voter tracking system.
- Archived election results back to 1838 available on webpage.
- Provides text and email reminders for upcoming elections.
Other reforms made by the Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds include:
- Partnered with Uber to provide jurors with a free ride to and from home and court.
- Partnered with Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation to provide free bus tickets for jurors without transportation.
- Started a one-day, one-trial system that reduced jury duty from one week to one day for most jurors and reduced annual costs.
- Provides free wireless Internet service in the jury room so jurors can stay in touch with family or work while waiting to be picked for a trial.
- Partnered with the Mount Clemens Public Library to provide free library books delivered from any library in the county, waiting when jurors arrive.
- Provides restaurant-style pagers to jurors, depending on court docket demand, letting jurors shop or simply get some fresh air,
- while waiting to be sent to a courtroom.
- Provides self-serve kiosks for jurors to check-in upon arrival, update their personal information, and also request other Clerk / Register of Deeds services such as birth records or deed.
- Provides evening hours every Wednesday to help customers get personal service if they cannot get to the office during the day.
- Offers a mobile branch office to bring clerk’s services to local communities.
- Provides overnight delivery for birth certificates, other vital records and court documents.
- Accepts credit card payments in all offices.
- Started a Personal Protection Order Assistance Center to help victims of abuse.
- Gives concealed pistol license applicants access to check their status online.
- Offers a business name and death record lookups on the Internet.
- Leading the way on cloud computing by switching to Google Apps for Government.
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