NOTICE: Digital Signature Campaign Filing
Digital Signature Filing Instructions for Campaign Filings
Digital Filing Frequently Asked Questions
Beginning January 1, 2023, filers required by the Political Reform Act of 1974 to file a report or statement by paper with the Secretary of State may instead file the paper report or statement by email. Additionally, the requirement that a copy must accompany an original report or statement filed with the SOS in paper format has been eliminated.
All statements must be signed using a verified digital signature consistent with FPPC Regulation 18104(b) (2). To comply with this requirement, see FPPC guidance.
**IMPORTANT: If you are required to file electronically or online, that obligation and method of filing remains unchanged. This guidance pertains only to filings previously required to be filed by paper. Filing statements by email does not satisfy the online filing requirement under GC 84605 (Political Reform Act) to file electronically with the Secretary of State in CAL-ACCESS. If your filing is received and filed by email, it only fulfills your obligation to file a report or statement by paper.
Filings received with a scanned copy of a signature or without a digital signature that qualifies as a “secure electronic signature” pursuant to the FPPC regulation and guidance referenced above will not be processed.
Q: What is the dollar amount or threshold that would trigger the duty to electronically file campaign statements?
If a filer has raised or spent a cumulative amount of $25,000 or more, electronic filing is required. Receipts include monetary and non-monetary contributions as well as loans received. Expenditures include loans made, accrued expenses, and all cash payments.
Q: What is the aggregation or accumulation period for determining the $25,000 electronic filing threshold?
State major donor and independent expenditure committees must file electronically if they make expenditures of $25,000 or more in a calendar year. All other state filers must file electronically if they receive contributions or payments of $25,000 or more, or make expenditures of $25,000 or more since 1/1/2000.
Q: What campaign entities are subject to electronic filing requirements?
Providing that the $25,000 campaign electronic thresholds specified below are met, the following entities are subject to electronic filing requirements:
- All statewide, legislative, Board of Equalization, appellate court, Supreme Court, superior court, PERS Board candidates and officeholders and State Teachers' Retirement Board candidates and officeholders, as well as their controlled committees, including committees primarily formed to support or oppose such candidates or officeholders;
- All state measure committees that are primarily formed to support or oppose a state initiative, referendum or recall;
- All state PAC's or general purpose recipient committees (which includes party committees and small contributor committees);
- All state major donor and state independent expenditure committees;
- All state slate mailer organizations; and
- Any person who makes a payment of $50,000 for an issue-advocacy communication that identifies a candidate for an elective state or statewide office but does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of that candidate.
Q: What campaign statements and reports are required to be filed electronically?
Once a filer has met the filing threshold that mandates electronic filing, all subsequent reports for that filer must be filed electronically and on paper, regardless of the amount or level of activity in any future report. Reports filed pursuant to Chapter 4, Title 9 of the Government Code are covered by this electronic filing requirement.
Q: If a filer is subject to electronic filing, will paper copies still be required to be filed with the Secretary of State as well as appropriate local filing officials?
State filers are required to file the original and one copy with the Secretary of State, local filings are not required. However, requirements for local filings apply for state candidates who also have a local committee.
Q: Are all controlled committees of a state candidate or officeholder included or aggregated together (rather than cumulated individually) to determine whether the candidate has met the electronic filing dollar threshold for cumulative receipts or expenditures?
Yes. All disclosure statements for all committees controlled by the same person are aggregated together. The electronic qualifying threshold is determined by adding all cumulative receipts or all cumulative expenditures across all controlled committees.
Q: Are all controlled committees of a state candidate or officeholder subject to electronic filing?
Yes. Once a state candidate or state officeholder is subject to electronic filing, all his/her controlled committees must file electronically regardless of the purpose or level of activity. A state officeholder who runs for a local office (or a local officeholder who runs for a state office) must file all applicable state and local controlled committee's reports electronically with the Secretary of State's Political Reform Division.
Q: Once a filer has met the qualifying activity threshold, would a filer ever be required to electronically file any statements or amendments retroactively?
No. But all future reports (and amendments to those future reports) must be filed electronically.
Q: Since state major donors and state independent expenditure committees do not file pre-election statements, what is the first electronic filing deadline for such filers?
Whatever report takes the aggregate total of the filer's activity to $25,000 or more in a calendar year must be filed electronically, such as a late contribution or independent expenditure report, the special quarterly report, or a semi-annual statement.
Q: If I do not meet the qualifying activity threshold, can I electronically file campaign statements with the Secretary of State on a voluntary basis at any time?
Yes. Any filer who is required to file disclosure statements or reports with the Secretary of State may voluntarily file these statements electronically. However, once a candidate or committee files electronically, the filer will incur ongoing electronic filing requirements and must file all subsequent reports electronically pursuant to Government Code Section 84605 (c) & (d). This law prevents non-mandated electronic state filers from selecting which disclosure statements and reports to electronically file and which to withhold from public disclosure on the web. Selectively filing late contribution reports, for example, could be misleading and defeat the purpose of full and accurate disclosure.
Q: When is the electronic report for contributions received of $5,000 or more filed?
This electronic-only report must be filed within 10 business days of receiving $5,000 or more beyond or before the beginning of the 90-day state election cycle. This report only applies to state or statewide candidates/officeholders and state ballot measure committees that have met the $25,000 electronic filing threshold.
Q: When is the 90-day election-cycle electronic report for contributions received of $1,000 or more filed?
This electronic-only report must be filed within 24 hours of receiving contributions of $1,000 or more during the 90 days before a state election.
Q: When is the 90-day election-cycle electronic report disclosing the making of independent expenditures of $1,000 or more filed?
This electronic-only report must be filed within 24 hours of making independent expenditures of $1,000 or more to support or oppose a candidate for elective state/statewide office or a state ballot measure during the 90 days before a state election. This report only applies to state committees that have met the $25,000 electronic filing threshold.
Q: When is the online issue advocacy report filed?
This online-only report must be filed within 48 hours of making a payment of $50,000 or more for an issue-advocacy communication that clearly identifies a candidate for an elective state or statewide office, but does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of that candidate. This report only applies to persons who make issue advocacy communications of $50,000 or more within 45 days of a state election. This report is filed by logging onto the Secretary of State web site and completing the form and submitting it on line.
Q: How are payments to a spokesperson, who appears in advertisements for ballot measures, disclosed?
A committee that pays an individual $5,000 or more to appear in an advertisement, which supports or opposes a ballot measure or its qualification, must file a Form 511 - Paid Spokesperson Report within 10 days of the expenditure. This report is filed by any recipient or major donor committee and shall identify the state or local measure, including the name, number or letter, and jurisdiction of the measure supported or opposed in the advertisement, the date of the expenditure, the name of the individual who was paid $5,000 or more to appear in the advertisement, and the amount of the expenditure.