It’s hard to obtain and use local office campaign finance reports in Kansas. In Sedgwick County, for example, candidates for local offices file reports on paper with the county election office. These reports are scanned and made available online.
That sounds good. But the online system is very difficult to use. It’s hard to find the reports you want to view.
Until recently the system didn’t support modern browser programs like Firefox and Chrome. I kept a Windows virtual PC on hand and maintained with an old version of Windows and Internet Explorer for the sole purpose of using the document system at Sedgwick County.
It’s better now. You can use modern browser programs. But how many people will make the effort of creating a virtual PC so to obtain campaign finance data?
Then, the data you download or print is not machine readable. It’s images of text. It’s not searchable. It can’t be loaded into a spreadsheet or database, except by hand, or in some limited cases, through optical character recognition.
The campaign finance reports can’t be linked to like other documents that are online, like you can link to an agenda or the minutes of meetings.
The Johnson County election office didn’t do any better. There, the finance reports I looked at were available as multi-page TIFF files. These are difficult to work with. The software that most people have on their computers will show just the first page, probably.
We can do better.
As a start, I’ve created a collection of campaign finance reports from Sedgwick County. It’s not comprehensive. The documents are images as provided by the election office, meaning they’re not searchable and can’t be loaded into a spreadsheet or database.
But it’s something more than the government provides. Click here to see.