The Campaign Reporting Act requires state and county elections boards to audit each campaign finance report filed with that office. Below are the answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding the audit process.
State law requires elections boards to audit every report filed. County elections board staff audit reports filed with that county’s elections board. The State Board of Elections has seven auditors on staff, and each auditor is assigned a portfolio of filers. Each portfolio includes candidate committees, political party committees, political action committees, independent expenditure PACs, independent expenditure filers and electioneering communication filers.
Each committee is in rotation for audit, however, committees are given priority based on complaints filed with the State Board of Elections, inquiries from the media or general public, the committee’s status as closed-pending, or the death of a candidate with an open committee.
Auditors simultaneously audit all candidates running for the same office. Auditors also simultaneously audit all political party committees within the same county.
Auditors review all reports within the committee’s current election cycle as well as reports within the records retention period. State law requires committees to retain records for two years after the date of the election to which the records pertain. If a committee has a two-year election cycle, the auditor will review up to four years of reports.
In the event that an audit is prioritized due to receipt of a formal complaint about the committee’s campaign finance activity, the audit will include the timeframe covered by the complaint if it exceeds the standard review scope.
When an audit is underway the assigned auditor will contact the committee treasurer or, in the case of a non-registered entity, the entity’s custodian of books. Auditors will let treasurers know if they need copies of committee records or financial institution records.
The initial review of a committee’s reports usually varies from one day to two weeks, depending on the number of transactions on the reports and on whether the committee reports are already in an electronic format.
Once the initial review is concluded the auditor will contact the treasurer for additional information as needed. Committees usually have two weeks to provide the additional information. If bank records must be obtained, the process of receiving those records can take up to six weeks depending on the bank.
Once additional records are provided, the auditor examines the new records and concludes the audit.
Auditors contact the treasurer or custodian of books to explain their conclusions, and assist committees with follow-up tasks such as filing amended reports and/or scheduling payment of forfeitures assessed, if any.
Once the audit is finalized, the auditor submits an Audit Memo to the committee’s record.
If you have any questions about the auditing process, please contact the Campaign Finance Office of the State Board of Elections at [email protected] or (919) 814-0700.