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Internet

Following the soft money

California voters will soon have access to last-minute contributions for next month's elections online, even though a bill that would have required candidates to file their campaign records on the Net was killed in August.

California voters soon will have access to last-minute contributions for next month's elections online, even though a bill that would have required candidates to file their campaign records on the Net was killed in August.

The California Voter's Foundation blasted the state Senate Elections Committee's action and decided to take matters into their own hands. It is another example of the grassroots effort going on in cyberspace to put more information before the public.

But the Foundation's plan will require a lot more work. The group's staff and some volunteers plan to take laptops to the Secretary of State's office every morning beginning next Tuesday to sift through filed reports. Late contributions of $5,000 or more will then be delivered to members and posted to its online voter guide.

"This is public information, and people have a right to look at these reports," said Kim Alexander, executive director of the Foundation.

Twenty-five percent of all money in the general election comes in during the last 16 days of the election, according to Alexander's research. "A lot of people wait to give money because they either haven't decided who they want to vote for or they want to keep the public in the dark," she added.

The Foundation today also announced additions to its voter's guide, including analyses of the 15 ballot propositions and reviews of each race. Voters also can search for specific issues and candidates in their district, link to 120 sites sponsored by California candidates and ballot measure committees, and find contact information about candidates.

California is leading the way in campaign information online, but Colorado is not far behind. Colorado Netizens now have access to the Analysis of 1996 Ballot Proposals, which includes information on ballot proposals and nonpartisan discussions on the pros and cons of each issue.