Move up campaign finances deadline
August 16, 2002
Nevada voters can start casting their ballots on Saturday, the first day of early voting, but they will be missing important information about the candidates.
If they’ve been studious, voters will have a good idea of the backgrounds of the candidates in the primary election and will have had at least a few opportunities to learn about their stance on issues.
What voters won’t know, however, is who is paying for the candidates’ campaigns.
The money behind the candidate is a key piece of information — so much so, it’s practically all that is required by law for candidates to divulge. Aside from bare-bones personal information — name, age, address and political affiliation — candidates don’t have to tell us much else.
They certainly aren’t required to speak out on the issues — and sometimes they never do.
But they are required to report who makes donations of at least $100 and the expenses they’ve paid. Unfortunately, the first of those reports isn’t due under Nevada law until Aug. 27 — 10 days after early voting begins.
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That’s still a week before election day Sept. 3, but early voting’s popularity means a sizable chunk of the electorate will already have cast ballots.
The same holds for the general election, when early voting begins Oct. 19 and financial reports are due Oct. 29.
It appears simply to have been an oversight. Financial reporting dates weren’t adjusted when early voting was established by the Legislature in 1993.
The solution should come during the next legislative session, when Nevada lawmakers will have an opportunity to change state election laws. The day before early voting begins might be an appropriate deadline, and one that’s easy for candidates to remember.
Many have been collecting contributions for months now. Voters should be able to know who is providing the money behind the campaigns, and how it’s being spent, before they cast their ballots.
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