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Making Pa. candidates show their donors electronically

A bill which would give citizens and the media a better look at who’s contributing to political candidates and committees in Pennsylvania has advanced in the state Legislature.

Candidates for office in Pennsylvania are required to submit regular reports revealing their contributions and expenses. If they file electronically, that information is posted quickly on a state-run website. But if candidates want to delay disclosure, they can submit paper filings, which can take election officials weeks to digitize.

The Pennsylvania Department of State’s Ron Ruman said of 1,700 reports filed in the April primary, 1,300 came on paper.

“You’re talking about bins that come from the post office literally stacked to the top and overflowing with campaign finance reports that our small staff here has to open, check the name, verify the number, and scan those,” Ruman said.

A study by Common Cause Pennsylvania found that the weekend before the election, a week after the filing deadline, more than half the legislative candidates’ reports were not available online.

But that could all change soon.

A bill requiring candidates to file electronically was approved last week by the House State Government Committee with bipartisan support. It appears headed toward passage.

Gov. Tom Corbett who favors the measure, is expected to sign it if it reaches his desk.

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