UPDATE 10/14: The PDC, in light of the continuing health crisis, continues to encourage campaigns to employ digital inspection of campaign books for the general-election inspection period that opens Oct. 24.
The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission recognizes the challenges that campaigns and voters face during the continuing COVID-19 crisis.
The virus and public health efforts to stem its spread have altered ways the public and candidates can safely interact, as many traditional forms of campaigning have had to adapt to incorporate physical distancing.
On July 25, the 10-day campaign books inspection period for candidates and political committees participating in the primary election will begin. State law changed in 2018 to allow for an alternative to the traditional in-person inspection. It now provides that the treasurer may provide digital access or copies of the books of account in lieu of scheduling an in-person appointment.
The Commission strongly encourages campaigns to use this alternative to meet its obligations in a way that keeps the public and campaign staff safe during this time. As indicated in the governor’s “Safe Start – Stay Healthy” proclamation, Washingtonians have a responsibility to protect themselves and others to minimize the health impacts of COVID-19.
Electronic inspection of records can be accomplished through various means, whether by emailing a digital file to the requester or a videoconference with screen-sharing.
The campaign can require the requester to provide identification for an electronic inspection. A digital copy of photo identification – with any account or license numbers redacted – can be emailed to the campaign, or, in the case of an inspection by videoconference, the requester may show the ID on screen.
The Commission thanks campaigns for their cooperation and stands ready to assist with questions that might arise. Making the necessary adaptations during this extraordinary time will help protect the public’s right to view campaign records and meet the Commission’s expectation that candidates and political committees remain transparent to the public.