© 1997 PR Newswire
May 20, 1997

Pennsylvania Governor Ridge Unveils Plan to Computerize Campaign Finance Reports

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and Secretary of the Commonwealth Yvette Kane today unveiled the Ridge Administration's plan for computerizing campaign finance reports, a plan that will make Pennsylvania a leader in providing campaign finance information to the public.

Ridge, who had been pushing for funding for this project since 1996, said the computerization of campaign finance records furthers his Administration's commitment to provide greater public access to information in a more user- friendly manner. "Beginning in the primary election cycle of 1998, campaign expense filings for all statewide candidates will be available to the public through Pennsylvania's homepage," Ridge said. "And, by the year 2000, our goal is to provide all of the 12,000 other campaign expense reports electronically -- both candidate and political committee filings."

In an effort to expedite the public's access to other campaign expense- report filings, Ridge encouraged all candidates, political parties and political action committees to submit their campaign expense reports on computer disk beginning next year.

"For a long time, when it came to public access to campaign finance records, citizens were forced to struggle along a dusty paper trail," Ridge said. "Despite instantaneous communications, such as the Internet and the information superhighway, access to information about those who seek public office lagged behind, stuck in the rut of paper files and manual retrieval."

Once a computer disk is filed with the state Bureau of Elections, the information will be loaded into the bureau's database. Information obtained from traditional paper filings will either be scanned or manually-inputted into the database by bureau staff. The public will be able to obtain reports detailing contributions and expenditures for each candidate and committee by accessing the bureau's database via the Internet, or by requesting a computer disk copy.

Ridge noted that Pennsylvania's homepage address is: www.state.pa.us . As part of his 1997-98 budget proposal, Ridge asked the General Assembly to appropriate $370,000 to fund the computerization initiative. The General Assembly included the necessary funds in the final budget, which Ridge signed on May 6.

Following his announcement, Ridge viewed a demonstration of how Pennsylvania's computerized campaign finance report process might work, and toured the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation.

For more information, contact Jerry Feaser, Deputy Press Secretary for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, 717/783-1116.

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