FROM:   Kim Alexander, CVF President
DATE:   July 31, 2001
RE:   Voting reform report; new CA campaign $ online

Hi Folks,

I have two news items to share with you in this issue of CVF-NEWS:

* Carter-Ford Commission releases election reform report
* New Calif. campaign finance reports go online today

Carter-Ford Commission releases election reform report

The National Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, issued its final report today, featuring recommendations for improving our voting process. The PDF report is 100-plus pages and is available online at Among its many recommendations, the commission encourages the federal government to provide some funding for voting equipment upgrades, noting that doing so would free up some state and local resources that could be spent on voter education and pollworker training.

The report also raises some fresh objections to early voting and remote voting via absentee ballots (now being used by one in four California voters), saying such practices open up elections to fraud, coercion and erosion of the secret ballot. It briefly notes Internet voting, saying that it is "an idea whose time most certainly has not yet come". It also recommends a national Election Day holiday. CVF Board member David Jefferson and I both testified before the commission at its April hearing held at the Reagan Library. I'll be reading the final report in full, as I'm sure will many of you -- if you have any opinions or thoughts to share please send them my way.

New Calif. campaign finance reports go online today

The new campaign finance disclosure reports for California candidates and committees covering contributions and expenditures through June 30 are being filed on the Internet today at the Secretary of State's site, including reports by prospective candidates for statewide office. The good news is that electronic filing in California has been fully implemented. The bad news is that CAL-ACCESS, the Secretary of State's campaign finance disclosure web site, is more difficult to use than ever!

Despite CVF's repeated efforts to work with the Secretary of State's staff to make the site more user-friendly, it instead remains a byzantine nightmare of confusing and sometimes misleading information. Even worse, content that was easily accessible no longer is -- for example, it is nearly impossible to now find lists of contributions to candidates in HTML. And once found, it is no longer possible to download this data to import and sort in a spreadsheet. Campaign expenditures are no longer accessible at all in HTML; the only way to view them is in PDF.

So, if you visit and feel like you are lost, don't worry, you are not alone. I've been doing campaign finance research in California for over ten years now and even I'm having trouble making sense of this site. It is such a shame, because there is truly a goldmine of information there for anyone who has the patience to try to find it and make sense of it.

We will continue working toward making this information as accessible as we can. In the meantime, if you are looking for the latest data on statewide candidates' donations you can start at CVF's "Possible 2002 Statewide Candidates" page, where we link you directly to each prospective candidates' online disclosure reports, where available. To use our resource, go to

Have a great week,

-- Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation, 530-750-7650,

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This page was first published on July 31, 2001 | Last updated on July 31, 2001
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