Table of Contents
- A - Committee Treasurer, Designated Record Keeper and Depository
- A1 - Campaign Finance Recordkeeping - Best Practices
- A2 - Information for Michigan Financial Institutions
- B - Registering a Committee With a Statement of Organization Form
- B1 - Filing Requirements
- C - The Reporting Waiver
- D - Electronic Filing of Campaign Statements (State Level Committees Only)
- E - Late Filing Fees, Waivers and Reviews
- F - Fundraisers
- G - Immediate Disclosure Reports
- 48 Hour/Late Contribution ReportsSpecial Election Independent Expenditure Reports24-Hour Reports
- H - Committee Types
- I - Use of Public Facilities, Funds, Etc, Prohibited
- J - Identification Requirements
- K - Out-of-State Groups
- L - Independent Contractors (Media Buyers and Other Vendors Purchasing Goods for the Committee)
- M - Recount Expenses
- N - Penalties
- O - Prohibited Contributions
- O1 - Contributions Exemptions
- O2 - Contributions Received by a Partnership,LLC or PLLC
- P - Special Primary, General and Recall Elections
- Q - Individuals and the Michigan Campaign Finance Act (MCFA)
- R - Incumbent Candidates
- S - Campaign Signs - FAQs
- T - Transfers
- W - Dissolution of a Committee
- X - Declaratory Rulings and Interpretive Statements
- Y - The Complaint Process
- Z - Reference Information
ELECTRONIC FILING OF CAMPAIGN STATEMENTS
STATE REGISTERED COMMITTEES ONLY
THE ELECTRONIC FILING REQUIREMENT
All committees registered under Michiganís Campaign Finance Act (MCFA), P.A. 388 of 1976 on the state level (i.e., registered with the Michigan Department of State’s Bureau of Elections) are required to file their campaign finance statements electronically if the committee 1) expects to spend or receive $5,000.00 or more in a calendar year or 2) spends or receives $5,000.00 or more in a calendar year. Once a committee has met the electronic filing threshold, the committee must file all future campaign statements electronically. This is true even if the committee balance falls below the $5,000.00 threshold.
The electronic filing requirements includes all campaign statements, 48 Hour/Late Contribution Reports and other immediately disclosure reporting. The Statement of Organization or an amendment to the Statement of Organization can also be submitted electronically.
THE MERTS SOFTWARE
To assist committees with the electronic disclosure requirement, a software program called MERTS (Michigan Electronic Reporting and Tracking System) was developed and is available to all committees registered with the Bureau of Elections. The MERTS software is free of charge and includes a variety of features to assist committees with meeting the MCFA disclosure obligations. Please note however that the MERTS software is a filing software created to meet the requirements of the MCFA. It is not a campaign management software. The MERTS software includes the following features.
- Is free of charge.
- Allows filings via the Internet or removable media.
- Has simple data entry screens to ensure that the required information is submitted.
- Flags missing information, excess contributions and other potential errors.
- Creates amendments that can be filed electronically.
- Provides a timed, automatic prompt for saving data.
- Provides immediate on screen confirmation of the receipt of an electronic filing when filed via the Internet.
- Permits import and export of names and simple receipt and expenditure records.
All committees that file with the Bureau of Elections are encouraged to use the software and voluntarily file electronically even if the committee is not required to file electronically. In the alternative, the committee can print out the committee campaign statement and submit a paper filing as long as the committee is not required to file electronically.
The MERTS software is available only to state level committees. It is not available to committees filed on the local level. Note: Committees filed with the Wayne County Clerk’s Office must contact the County for information on electronic filing requirements.
Other Approved Software Programs
In addition to the MERTS software, several vendors software programs have been approved to file electronically. Only the MERTS software files and approved vendor files can be accepted by the Bureau of Elections in order to meet the electronic filing requirement. Files submitted via email, PDF, Excel or any other non-approved format will not be accepted as a filing to satisfy the electronic filing requirement.
All active committees registered with the Bureau of Elections are automatically registered to receive the software. The Statement of Organization form filed to register the committee that contains the signatures (as applicable) of the committee treasurer, designated record keeper and candidate is all that is needed to register for the software. Please take special care in reading and filling out the Electronic Filing section and obtaining all of the applicable signatures. Signatures on file for the committee must be kept up-to-date. If an update is needed, the committee must file an amended Statement of Organization form with the signatures of any new committee members as required.
Committee members are encouraged to participate in the training options provided by the Bureau of Elections. Committee members can take an on-line training course and/or can sign up for MERTS training via webinar.
- To sign up for on-site training, log on to www.mertsplus.com and click on the “Lansing Training” button located on the right hand side of the page. The training consists of a demonstration of the software and an opportunity for questions and answers. The Training is a webinar and is combined with compliance training. After completing the training, committees are given the information needed to download the software and obtain a password to file via the Internet.
- To take the on-line training, log on to www.mertsplus.com and click on the “Online Training Sessions” button located on the right hand side of the page. Training consists of a tutorial that averages one-hour. After completing the training, committees are given an opportunity to download the software and obtain a password to file via the Internet.
Downloading the Software - Username and Password
To download the software, the committee must obtain the username and password. This is provided at www.mertsplus.com. In addition to this password, the committee will need a separate unique password that is used to upload a file to the Bureau of Elections. See information below.
After completing the training, MERTS Help Desk staff can assist with any questions you may have. Phone: (517) 999–3468(EGOV). Questions can also be submitted via email through firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPLOAD PASSWORD - NEEDED TO SUBMIT A FILING VIA THE INTERNET
Committees that wish to file via the Internet must request a password at www.mertsplus.com. Simply click on “Password Assignment” on the right hand side of the page. Once the password has been issued, it does not expire and can be used for all of the Committee filings. Each committee wishing to file via the Internet must have its own password. The Bureau of Elections does not keep a record of your password. If you lose or misplace your password, you must request a new one at www.mertsplus.com. This same password is used to file campaign statements, 48 Hour/Late Contribution Reports and other immediate disclosure reporting via the e-IDR program at www.michigan.gov/elections. See below for more information on the Department’s e-IDR Internet filing application.
e-IDR (Immediate Disclosure Reporting)
The Michigan Department of Stateís Bureau of Elections Immediate Disclosure Reporting or “e-IDR” program allows committees registered with the Department of State to file 48 Hour/Late Contribution Reports, Special Election Independent Expenditure Reports and 24-Hour Reports (Caucus Committees only) electronically.
All committees are encouraged to use the e-IDR program voluntarily. However, committees that are required to file electronically because they have exceeded the $5,000.00 threshold must also file 48 Hour/Late Contribution Reports, Special Election Independent Expenditure Reports and 24-Hour Reports using e-IDR. Paper, email or fax copies no longer meet the filing requirements of the MCFA Late filing fees will be assessed on reports that are required to be filed electronically and are not filed using e-IDR. The MERTS password obtained to file campaign statements electronically is used here as well. See above for information on obtaining a password.
To file using e-IDR, go to www.michigan.gov and click the following: “Election in Michigan,” “Campaign Finance Disclosure,” “E-filing” and then any of the information found in the box with the heading e-IDR Electronic Filing Program.
See Appendix G for specific information on the requirements of 48 Hour/Late Contribution Reports, Special Election Independent Expenditure Reports and 24 Hour Reports.