FAQs

Contents
527 political organizations
Candidates
Candidate committees
Caucuses
Complaints
Contributions
Definitions
Disclosure
Electioneering
Expenditures
Federal Political Action Committees (PACs)
Filing
Fundraising
Independent expenditures
Issue committees
Limited liability companies (LLCs)
Lobbyists
Major contributors
Political committees
Political parties
Recall committees
Registered agents
School district candidates
Special district candidates
Searching
Small donor committees
Voluntary spending limits



Filing

Q1.  Do we have to file electronically?

A1.  In most cases, yes.  Filings must be submitted electronically, with a few exceptions. [1]   You can find a list of forms and transactions on the forms list.

 

Q2.  How do we file?

A2.  We offer three ways to file electronically:

  1. You can enter your campaign finance information directly into TRACER
  2. You can use electronic data interchange (EDI) with pre-approved Excel spreadsheets. 
  3. You can use EDI with XML.

See FAQ #Q7 for more information about EDI.

Forms that must be submitted on paper (including candidate affidavits, personal financial disclosures, and gift and honoraria reports) can be found on the forms list.

 

Q3.  How do I know if my report has been filed successfully?

A3.  When you submit your report, TRACER will display a confirmation message indicating that you have successfully filed your report.  You will also have the option to print a copy of the filed report for your records or to export the report. 

You can also see reports that have been filed successfully by clicking on the "Filings" tab at the top of the page.  The "Filing History" will show you a history of your reports.  You can view the status of each report and their filing dates.

 

Q4. We don't have the ability to file electronically.  What can we do?

A4.  Candidates and committees can apply for an exemption to the electronic filing rule based on hardship or other good cause. Please review Campaign Finance Rule 19 for more information.

 

Q5. Are there penalties for failing to file disclosure reports, or for filing them late?

A5.  Our office and the municipal clerks are required to impose penalties for failure to file disclosure reports and for disclosure reports filed past the due date. The penalty is $50 per day, including weekends and holidays, for every day that a report remains outstanding.

 

Q6. Can I give permission for a vendor or other person to enter contributions and expenditures on behalf of my committee?

A6.  Yes. If you want to grant access to a vendor, you can submit the User Name and PIN Permissions Form for Additional Users (PDF). After the form has been received and approved by our office, access will be granted. 

Note that while a vendor can enter contributions and expenditures into the system, the registered agent and/or the candidate for the committee is still responsible for filing the actual report. Vendors or other third parties are not permitted to file reports on behalf of a committees that they are working for.

 

Q7. What is EDI?

A7.  EDI (Electronic Data Interface) is a method of electronic filing which allows submission of bulk report data using a predesigned template, thus avoiding online entry of information contained in the report. This method of contribution and expenditure entry may be particularly useful for committees with a large volume of activity to report. EDI is completed using either an Excel or an XML template.

EDI is available to all filers, but it is best suited to committees with a large number of contribution and expenditure entries. EDI provides an additional data management option for candidates or committees.

In order to ensure that the templates have been filled out properly and that the system will accept the data, we ask that new EDI filers submit a test file at least two weeks before their filing deadline.

For more information about EDI, contact us at cpfhelp@sos.state.co.us or 303-894-2200, ext. 6383.

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Q8. What is the "10 Most Recent Contributions/Expenditures" list?

A8.  This is a list of the most recent contributions and expenditures that have been successfully entered into the system.  They are not pending; the display is simply a reminder of where the last person to log into the account left off.

 

Q9. What does "NSF" mean?

A9.  "NSF" means "nonsufficient funds".  This indicates contributions that were returned by the bank due to insufficient funds in the account.  When you search for a contribution, one of the options available to you is "NSF".

 

Q10. What does "terminated" mean?

A10.  For a candidate, a status of "terminated" means that they are no longer actively seeking that specific office. This usually happens at the end of an election cycle. 

For a committee, "terminated" means that they have a zero balance in their fund and have closed the committee.

 

Q11. What are the most common reasons for delinquent filings?

A11.  The most common reasons are:

1. Failure to submit the report online. 

Make sure that you click the "File" button at the bottom of each report to submit your filing in TRACER.  After you click on "File", a confirmation dialog box will appear.  Click on "Ok" to submit the report.  Until you click on "Ok" to confirm, your report is not filed.

2. Using the wrong filing calendar. 

State and county filers use various reporting schedules depending on the status and activity of the candidate or committee. If you are unsure which filing calendar your entity should use, please contact our office at 303-894-2200.

3. Missed deadlines. 

It's a good idea to have procedures in place to remind you of an approaching deadline. Here are a few suggestions that may help:

  • Set up email reminders.
  • Write filing dates on your calendar.
  • Establish backup procedures in the event you or your filing agent is unable to file reports (include access to forms and/or filing system).
  • Remember to include an email address on your committee registration and keep it up to date so that you will receive reminders about filing deadlines.

4. Lost user names or passwords.

Be sure to save the email containing your user name and password (PIN). If you lose your account information, contact our office so that we can send you a new password.

5. New filing agent who is unsure of procedures and deadlines.

Always make certain that your filing agent understands all requirements of the laws relating to campaign and political finance. In order to guard against inadvertently missing a filing date, it is crucial that you instruct your agent on proper filing requirements. For more information on filing requirements and procedures, please refer to the Colorado Campaign and Political Finance Training Manual (PDF). Information about how to enter contributions, expenditures and how to file reports as well as other important information about the TRACER system is also included in various webinars designed to walk you through these processes.

6. No contributions and expeditures for reporting period.

Even if there has been no activity during a reporting period, committees are still required to file a report.

7. Illnesses or unexpected events.

Prepare for unexpected events that may interfere with the timely filing of reports. It is highly recommended that backup procedures be established in the event that you or your filing agent are unavailable to submit reports.

8. Reports not filed by close of business.

For the purpose of electronic filing, the close of business means 11:59 PM on the day that the report is due.

9. Failure to file a Notice of Major Contributor report.

All committees who receive contributions of $1,000 or more within 30 days of a primary or general election must file a Notice of Major Contributor within 24 hours of receiving the contribution. This contribution should also be listed on the committee’s regularly scheduled report.

10. Failure to file notice of an independent expenditure.

Any person or committee making an expenditure in excess of $1,000 in a calendar year that is not controlled or coordinated with a candidate must notify us in writing. Each expenditure in excess of $1,000 requires a new written notice and any person or committee making an independent expenditure within 30 days of a primary or general election is required to deliver this notice within 48 hours after making the expenditure.

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TRACER FAQs

Q12. What is TRACER?

A12.  TRACER is the online campaign finance filing system. It was launched on January 4, 2010.

TRACER contains campaign finance data for all state and county candidates, committees, and political parties in Colorado dating back to 2002. Candidates, committees, and political parties enter their reports of contributions and expenditures into TRACER.

 

Q13. What does "TRACER" stand for?

A13.  TRACER stands for Transparency in Contribution and Expenditure Reporting.

 

Q14. How do I set up a user account?

A14.  When you register a committee, an account is created for you.  A user ID and personal identification number (PIN) will be emailed to you, generally within one business day of your registration.

If you are a standalone candidate who is not registering a committee, you will receive TRACER account information after we receive your candidate affidavit.

 

Q15. Why do I need to give you an email address?

A15.  Important information is sent to the email address on the user account.  Be sure to keep your email address current.

 

Q16. How do I change the email address on my account?

A16.  You can change the email address associated with your account in TRACER.  You can also contact us at 303-894-2200, ext. 6383, or cpfhelp@sos.state.co.us.

 

Q17. What happened to data that was entered in the old system?

A17.  All existing data was migrated into the new system.

 

Q18. Is there training for TRACER?

A18.  There are training modules and webinars available for your use.

There is also a "Help on this page" link available on many TRACER pages. Clicking on this link will give you detailed instructions and a description of the options available to you on that particular page.

 

Q19. Will my username and password from the old system work in TRACER?

A19.  No.  If you had an account in the old system, you will need new login information for TRACER.  If you did not receive a pair of emails about the system on January 3, 2010, please call us at 303-894-2200, ext. 6383, or email cpfhelp@sos.state.co.us for access.

If you are a new user, you can simply go to tracer.sos.colorado.gov to get started.

 

Q20. I entered the wrong password a few times, and now I'm locked out of TRACER.  How can I avoid this?

A20.  TRACER gives you three chances to enter the correct username and password (PIN).  If you enter the wrong information three times, the system will lock you out and you will need to contact us to have your account unlocked.

To avoid lockouts, click on "Forgot your PIN?" after no more than two attempts to log in.  You will then be asked to provide the answer to the security question associated with your account. After you provide the correct answer to the security question, your password will be displayed on the screen. If you continue to have trouble with your username or password, please contact us at 303-894-2200, ext. 6383, or cpfhelp@sos.state.co.us.

 

Q21. What is the difference between the tabs across the top of the TRACER page and the links on the left side of the page?

A21.  Once you have logged into the system, the tabs across the top of the page will guide you to the various sections of TRACER necessary to enter contributions, expenditures and to file your report. You will primarily be using the tabs at the top of the page when you are working in your committee workspace and entering information specific to your committee. The links on the left side are "public" links and allow you to search for other candidates, committees, contributions and expenditures outside of your own workspace and to run reports on various information contained in the system.


Q22. I have more questions.

A22.  You can call us with questions at 303-894-2200, ext. 6383, or email us at cpfhelp@sos.state.co.us.

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[1] Rule 19