by Lisa Sorg
The N.C. Board of Elections has significant accounting and auditing problems, including a backlog of 30,000 unaudited campaign finance reports.
These are among the several shortcomings noted in a state audit released today. You can read it by clicking on this icon.
According to the audit, the board failed to transfer $452,000 to the Office of State Budget and Management, as legally required, a state audit released today found. Instead, the money went to the state’s general fund.
The money came from fines, penalties and forfeitures of anonymous campaign contributions or those that were unlawfully collected by campaign or political committees during the 2011 fiscal year.
The board of elections attributed the error to the lack of a dedicated staff person with a governmental accounting background. In the future, the board told auditors, it will submit a monthly request to the state Department of Administration of amounts that need to be transferred.
There were other deficiencies in the board’s financial recordkeeping, including the amount of money owed to the board. The misstatements resulted in $478,000 in money that was owed to the board.
The board did not comply with campaign finance reporting requirements that deal with penalties and delinquent reports. In some cases, money from the penalties was not collected at all.
And finally, the board had not audited more than 30,000 campaign finance reports, including some dating to the 2000 election. Sixty percent of the campaign finance reports from the 2010 election cycle had not been audited.
The board promised to strengthen internal controls to address some of the deficiencies. Concerning the backlog of unaudited campaign finance reports, the board noted that the four-month audit requirement has never been accomplished in the 40 years since the Campaign Finance Reporting Article had been implemented. “Until electronic filing is mandated [paper filing is still allowed], and Campaign Finance receives additional resources, this deadline will always be a challenge,” the board wrote.