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Frequently Asked Questions

General

How do I change my email address in COMET?

If your email address is on the statement of organization, update the statement of organization with the new email address and save and submit the change. (1) Go to the COMET login page and click on "register here." (2) Enter your new email address, create a new password, and enter the verification letters/numbers. (3) Click "submit." (4) You will receive a new account confirmation email. Click on the link provided and enter your profile information. (5) Save your account information. (6) Go back to the COMET home screen and login using your old email and password. (7) Add your new email as a new user on the account. This will give your new email access to your account. (8) Once this is done, you may delete your old email from the account.

How do I grant access to my committee in COMET to others?

(1) Log on to COMET. (2) Click on the committee name. (3) Go to “Users” (in the red navigation bar). Click on "Add a New User." (4) Enter the user’s email address. Note: You cannot add a new user which has not already registered in COMET. To give the new user full access (which allows them to add new users and file reports), check the box "Is Admin". If you want to user to enter data only, do not check the "Is Admin" box.

How do I refresh a page?

Click the F5 key at the top of your keyboard.

How is a foreign address listed for a contact?

(1) Enter locality and country in the "City" field. (2) Enter Zip code. (3) In the "State" field - choose "not applicable". Note: committees are prohibited from accepting contributions from foreign nationals.

I am logged on and don't see my committee information.

It is possible that you do not have web access to the committee information. You will need to be added as a user to the committee by an admin of the committee. If you registered as a user of COMET and have not created nor submitted a statement of organization, select the appropriate committee type from the left side of the screen complete and submit the form.

I did not receive an email that I was expecting.

Check to make sure that your email information is correct on your statement of organization. Check that your email inbox is not full. Also, check your "Spam" or "Junk" folder. You may want to add "cfda@elections.virginia.gov" to your address book. You can also request that your mail administrator white list emails from cfda@elections.virginia.gov.

When should I add contacts to identify financial sources?

When adding line item entries, it is important to re-use contacts rather than re-entering the information multiple times, creating multiple contact records for one source. This will allow the system to correctly aggregate totals-to-date for Schedules A and B. To re-use a contact, type in at least the 1st 2 characters of the 1st identifying name and select from the list of matches that then displays. You should only add new contacts for new contributors. If information about a previous contributor changes, their old contact information should be edited.

Who are the Approved Vendors?

A list of ELECT approved vendors can be found at the following web address: http://elections.virginia.gov/index.php/candidatepac-info/campaign-finance-filing/

Administration

Can I use COMET on a Mac?

Yes. The system is compatible with commonly used browsers, regardless of what type of computer (PC or Apple) you are using.

Can I use COMET to file paper reports with my local registrar?

Paper filers’ interaction with COMET will be limited to preparing their statements of organization. Only e-filers are able to use COMET to file reports.

I am currently a paper filer and wish to begin using COMET. What do I need to do?

Please review the COMET manual prior to beginning (http://elections.virginia.gov/Files/CandidatesAndPACs/COMET/COMETUserManual.pdf). The committee will be required to enter in previous contribution and expenditure data from the beginning of the current election cycle.

I have two statements of organization for one committee in COMET.

Contact ELECT staff at 1-800-552-9745. You should have only one statement of organization per committee.

I was a previous paper filer. What should I do about the aggregate totals for repeat contributors?

All receipts must be associated with a name. There are two options: (1) Monitor repeat contributors from the paper reports; or, (2) Key in data from the previous reports.

What are the system requirements for using this software?

Mozilla Firefox v. 7.0 and above Internet Explorer v. 7 and above Chrome v. 11 Safari - recommend latest version Please contact the Internet browser provider for assistance on upgrading your browser. ELECT staff cannot provide assistance on this issue.

Where will my data be stored and who will have access to my information?

All information entered into the new application will be stored on a server managed and protected by ELECT. Just like the current system, the information you are required to disclose on campaign finance reports will not be visible to the public before the filing deadline and until you tell the system to file your report. However, any information entered (including small donors, whose names are not required to be disclosed publicly) will reside on ELECT’s server. We have put in place security measures and administrative policies to ensure the privacy of your information. In addition, the 2010 General Assembly, in anticipation of this system, passed a law that protects your information from requests under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.

Who can register as a COMET user?

Anyone can register as a user of COMET. The user will see the committee information only if they setup a new committee in COMET or if an admin user of another committee gives them access (See Chapter III in the Electronic Filing User Manual: http://elections.virginia.gov/Files/CandidatesAndPACs/COMET/COMETUserManual.pdf).

Will I be able to continue using private vendor software to file my campaign finance reports?

Yes. The new system will accept files generated by software on the approved vendor list. ELECT will provide vendors with new specifications and require vendors to be certified under the new system. We anticipate these changes will be minimal. However, it will be the responsibility of the vendor to make any adjustments necessary to certify the software for use by clients.

Will I be able to download my data into a file or spreadsheet on my computer?

Yes. The system will allow you to download your data into Excel or a .csv file which you can then sort or filter to suit your data needs.

Will I be able to upload data from Quicken or other software, so I don't have to type it in twice?

Not initially, but we intend to look into this as an option in the future.

Expenditures

Expenditure State field asks me to enter a number, What do I do?

Try logging out of COMET and log back in. It should then let you use the drop down for the state.

How do I delete duplicate entries (in any schedule)?

To delete a duplicate entry: (1) Go to the appropriate schedule. (2) For each individual entry you will see on the right - two pieces of paper one marked with an "X" and the other with a "pencil". Click on the paper marked with an "X" to delete.

General

How do I change my email address in COMET?

If your email address is on the statement of organization, update the statement of organization with the new email address and save and submit the change. (1) Go to the COMET login page and click on "register here." (2) Enter your new email address, create a new password, and enter the verification letters/numbers. (3) Click "submit." (4) You will receive a new account confirmation email. Click on the link provided and enter your profile information. (5) Save your account information. (6) Go back to the COMET home screen and login using your old email and password. (7) Add your new email as a new user on the account. This will give your new email access to your account. (8) Once this is done, you may delete your old email from the account.

How do I grant access to my committee in COMET to others?

(1) Log on to COMET. (2) Click on the committee name. (3) Go to “Users” (in the red navigation bar). Click on "Add a New User." (4) Enter the user’s email address. Note: You cannot add a new user which has not already registered in COMET. To give the new user full access (which allows them to add new users and file reports), check the box "Is Admin". If you want to user to enter data only, do not check the "Is Admin" box.

How do I refresh a page?

Click the F5 key at the top of your keyboard.

How is a foreign address listed for a contact?

(1) Enter locality and country in the "City" field. (2) Enter Zip code. (3) In the "State" field - choose "not applicable". Note: committees are prohibited from accepting contributions from foreign nationals.

I am logged on and don't see my committee information.

It is possible that you do not have web access to the committee information. You will need to be added as a user to the committee by an admin of the committee. If you registered as a user of COMET and have not created nor submitted a statement of organization, select the appropriate committee type from the left side of the screen complete and submit the form.

I did not receive an email that I was expecting.

Check to make sure that your email information is correct on your statement of organization. Check that your email inbox is not full. Also, check your "Spam" or "Junk" folder. You may want to add "cfda@elections.virginia.gov" to your address book. You can also request that your mail administrator white list emails from cfda@elections.virginia.gov.

When should I add contacts to identify financial sources?

When adding line item entries, it is important to re-use contacts rather than re-entering the information multiple times, creating multiple contact records for one source. This will allow the system to correctly aggregate totals-to-date for Schedules A and B. To re-use a contact, type in at least the 1st 2 characters of the 1st identifying name and select from the list of matches that then displays. You should only add new contacts for new contributors. If information about a previous contributor changes, their old contact information should be edited.

Who are the Approved Vendors?

A list of ELECT approved vendors can be found at the following web address: http://elections.virginia.gov/index.php/candidatepac-info/campaign-finance-filing/

Receipts

How Do I create a Large Contribution Report

The receipt must be entered and saved. Then click on the "Receipts" button You will see the contributors name On the right click on the Pencil next to the "X" The receipt will open In the bottom left hand corner of the window Click on "Create Large Contribution Report" Once created Click inside the box "I declare" and click on "Submit"

What do I enter into contact information if a contributor is retired?

To complete the contact information in both the occupation and employer fields enter "retired". Enter city/state of residence in the City/State field.

Why are the in-kind contributions I entered not appearing on schedule B?

In most cases, this is because you did not change the type of contribution from “Cash” to “In-Kind”. To change this: (1) Under "Receipts," search for the missing contribution. (2) Click the pencil to the right of the appropriate entry. (3) Select the correct radio button on the blue bar to change the type of contribution. (4) Save the entry. Note: whenever you make a change to a transaction, you will need to re-prepare the report before the changes will take effect within the report.

Registration

I registered in COMET but did not receive the "New Account Confirmation" Email.

Check to make sure that your email information is correct on your statement of organization. Check that your email inbox is not full. Also, check your "Spam" or "Junk" folder. You may want to add "cfda@elections.virginia.gov" to your address book. You can also request that your mail administrator white list emails from cfda@elections.virginia.gov.

Report Filing

After I filed I realized that my report is not correct, what can I do to fix it?

Once a report is filed, the only way to correct it is to file an amended report. You can prepare an amended report in the same manner you prepared the original report. Make the changes to your data, then follow the instructions to submit the report. They system will register the most recently filed report as an amendment to the previous report.

Aggregate totals for contributors are not showing.

The following instances could apply: (1)The contribution is $100 or less and automatically is listed on Schedule G. (2)You were a previous paper filer, who switched to electronic filing while in the midst of an election cycle. To correct: enter all previous contributions over $100 with the original date. (3) You may have entered the previous contributions as $100 or less under "Edit Un-itemized Contributions "on Schedule G. The system does not hold the information except for the report you are filing at that very moment.

Do I need to enter receipts $100 and less?

Yes. All dollars must have a name attached. Key in all contributions no matter what the amount. COMET will calculate the data and put the information in the correct place on the report.

Figures do not look correct on Schedule H.

Check the figures under baseline finances by clicking on "Reporting" then "View/Amend" for the first report filed using COMET.

How do I file an Amended Report?

(1) Click on "Reporting." (2) Click on "View/Amend" next to the report you wish to amend. (3) Click on the "Prepare Report for Review" button. Let it process. The web application will automatically mark the report "Amended". (4) Once processing is complete, you will see a "Review and Submit" button on the right. Click the "Review and Submit" button. (5) Once reviewed , select the "I declare" box and click "Submit report".

I accidentally filed a final report. What do I do?

(1) Click on "Reporting" (2) Click "View/Amend" next to the appropriate report. (3) Do not click the "Is Final" button. Go straight to "Prepare Report for Review" and let it process. (4) Click on "Review and Submit." (5) Scroll down. Select the box that says "I declare" and click "Submit". This amends the report from a final to a regular report.

I do not see the "Prepare Report for Review" button. What do I do?

This is likely because your committee failed to save its baseline finances when preparing the committee’s first report in COMET. (1) Click on "Reporting". (2) Click on "View/Amend" for the first report ever prepared and filed using COMET. (3) Click on "Baseline Finances" underlined in blue. (4) Verify that the figures are correct. If not, enter the correct figures. (5) Click "Save" on the bottom right of the window. Note: You will need to amend each subsequent report through to the current report in order to bring all your reports up to date.

I don't have the occupation information for a contributor. What do I enter?

Occupation information is required for contributors whose contributions total (aggregate) to over $100 in an election cycle. If the contributor gives you less than $100 you may type a place holder in those fields that says "get info", "request info" , or "info required by law" until the information can be obtained.

I don't see contributions $100 or less.

Contributions of $100 or less are aggregated, and show on Schedule G in the un-itemized entries.

I used to file on paper. How do I report outstanding loans/debts?

(1) Go to "Add New" and click on "Loans/Debts." (2) Enter the loan information, making sure to use the original date the loan was received.

If I leave my account open, do I need to amend my statement of organization after the election for which it was submitted?

No. COMET automatically rolls over to the next election at the end of the cycle for all active committees.

I'm new to electronic filing. How should I enter previous data that was reported on paper?

Data from Schedule H of a previous report is entered under "Baseline Finances". (1) Click on "Reporting". (2) Click on the File or the View/Amend for the first report you are filing. (3) "Baseline Finances" will be underlined in blue font. Click to open . (4) Enter the data from Schedule H of the last report - Lines 21 through 29 . (5) Click on the yellow "Save" button to the right. (6) Then click "Prepare Report for Review" and let it process . To verify the information go to "Review/Submit." To view reporting schedules, scroll up and click on the yellow box for schedules A-I.

I'm trying to amend a Report and I don't see anything showing "Amend."

File as you would a regular report. The system will automatically recognize the newly prepared report as an amended report once it is submitted.

In Kind Contributions over $100 are not showing on schedule B.

(1) Go to "Receipts." (2) Click on the pencil to the right of the "X" to edit the contribution. (3) On the blue bar, select the radio button for "In Kind" and click "Save." (4) Go to "Reporting." (5) Click "View/Amend" for the appropriate report. (6) Click on "Prepare Report for Review." (7) Click "Review and Submit." Scroll up the page and you will see the in-kind contribution on Schedule B.

My report says "0" entries. Where is my information?

Go to "Reporting". Click on the File or View/Amend next the report you are attempting to file. Click on the "Prepare report for Review" button. Let it process. Once complete, to the right of the processing window. You will see the "Review and Submit" button. Click the "Review and Submit" button. Scroll up, on the right you will in Yellow - Report - A B C D E etc. These are your schedules. If you click on G, you can review the data entered for the reporting period. If all is complete, go back to "Report". Click in the box "I declare". Click on Submit.

My XML file will not load.

Sometimes this happens when a field is left blank. (1) Open the XML file go to the blank field. (2) Add the appropriate information and click "save." (3) Try to re-submit. If this does not work, contact your vendor for further support.

No reports are showing under "Reporting" for the current year. What do I do?

No reports will show until your statement of organization has been accepted by the Department of Elections (ELECT). Be sure that your statement of organization has a status of "accepted". Please call ELECT Campaign Finance Services at 1-800-552-9745. A staff member will need to establish the reporting schedule for you.

We have a new treasurer. What do I need to do?

The law requires the committee to amend their statement of organization within 10 days of any change. To do this, have the new treasurer register as a COMET user. Then add the treasurer as an admin user of the committee. This will provide the treasurer with web access to COMET. The treasurer will then see the same information you see when logged on. We recommend you designate at least 2 admin users for each committee in case one admin user leaves unexpectedly.

What goes under Baseline Finances?

This section must be completed when filing a first report using COMET. (1) Click on "Reporting." (2) Click on the "File or Prepare Report" button for the appropriate report . (3) Click on Baseline Finances (underlined in blue font). (4) If you have never filed a report before, COMET will default to all zeros in the fields. If you previously paper filed then you must manually enter the information from Schedule H of your paper filed report Lines 21 through 29. (5) Save your work.

What is the candidate election cycle?

January 1st after the last election for the office sought is the beginning of the cycle. The end of the cycle is December 31st after the election for the office sought.

When and how do I file a large dollar contribution for a political committee?

Large dollar contributions of $10,000 or more from a single source must be reported within 3 business days of receipt. To file the report enter the amount as a receipt. Save and click on the "file" button. Check the "I declare" button and submit.

When can I enter data and file my report?

Transactions can be entered as soon as you are aware of them. No information that you enter will be seen by the public until you file. Reports can be filed on the day after the reports activating ending date. For example, if the report is due 4/15 and the activity ending date is 3/31 then the report can be filed anytime on and after 4/1 but before 11:59 pm on 4/15.

When do I use the final report button?

Selecting the "Is Final Report" button means you are closing your committee. You must have zero balance and zero debt to do so.

When should I report large contributions with COMET?

The threshold for local candidates is $500 or more. The threshold for General Assembly candidates is $1000 or more. The threshold for statewide candidates is $5000 or more. When the threshold is met within 11 days before a general election, special election, primary election, or nominating event a report must be filed. Reports must be filed within 24 hours of receipt of the contribution. If the contribution is received on a Saturday then the report is due on Monday. If you are using COMET, it recognizes amounts only, not dates. The file button will appear and if it is not within the 11 day window before an election there is no need to file. The “File” button will eventually disappear if you do not click it.

When should I use "Edit Unitemized Contributions" on schedule G?

ELECT does not recommend using this feature with the exception of having a late fundraiser before a reporting deadline. This field does not hold the information you key into it from one report to the other. ELECT recommends that you key in all of the contributor info with the dollar amount. COMET will put the information in the appropriate field..

Why is an in kind contribution showing as an Expense?

In-kind contributions are not expendable funds; they are an item or service of value. To make the report balance come out the same as the bank account's ending balance, in-kind contributions are automatically expensed out.

Statements of Organization

Am I required to send a statement of organization? If so, where do I take it or mail it?

Yes, a signed paper copy of the statement of organization must be provided. The statement of organization can be printed from COMET and signed. Local candidates must submit their statement of organization to the local voter registrar in the city/county where they are registered to vote. General Assembly must file with ELECT and their local Voter Registrar. Statewide candidates and political committees file with ELECT only. Contact information for local General Registrars offices can be accessed at this link: https://voterinfo.sbe.virginia.gov/PublicSite/Public/FT2/PublicContactLookup.aspx

Can I open a new committee account using the same name as a committee who's account I previously closed?

No. COMET will not allow two committees with the same name. If you previously closed a committee and are opening a new committee, we recommend you add a period or the word committee at the end of the name to differentiate it from the previous committee.

How do I change the information on the statement of organization?

(1) Login to COMET. (2) Click on the committee name. (3) Click on “Statement of Organization” in the red ribbon at the top of the screen. (4) Click on “File an Amendment.” (5) Make your changes and enter the date changes took effect. (6) At the bottom of the page select the radio button to “Submit Statement of Organization.” (7) Click “Save” to electronically transmit the form to ELECT.

How do I remove a previous treasurer from the committee's statement of organization?

(1) Open the statement of organization. (2) Click on "Users." (3) Click on the ex-treasurer's email address. (4) Click "Delete" to remove the user. Note: This constitutes a change of information. The statement of organization requires an amendment.

I completed the statement of organization, but cannot print it out. Why not?

The statement of organization has not been submitted in COMET yet. Follow these steps to submit: (1) Click on the committee name to open the statement of organization. (2)Click the Edit button. (3) Scroll down to the bottom and click on the "Prepare for Submission" radio button. (4) Click the "Save" button to submit. (5) Go back to the main screen (“Home”) and open the statement of organization. (6) Click on "Download a Printable Copy". (7) A window will come up. Click on "Open." (8) Save the file to your computer and then print.

I have already mailed my committee’s statement of organization, but realized I made a mistake and now I cannot edit my submission. What do I do?

Call ELECT at 1-800-552-9745 and request a staff member to return it back to you for editing.

I previously registered a committee for one office and want to know if I can use the same name for a new office.

For the purpose of clear public disclosure, COMET does not allow two committees to use the exact same name. Similar names with minimal differences (such as the addition of a period or the word "committee") are acceptable.

I'm using a 3rd party vendor and cannot file.

Review the filing method indicated on the current statement of organization. File an amendment to the statement of organization, indicating a change filing method and submit.

My statement of organization's status is showing "saved."

This means the statement of organization has not been submitted. (1) Click on the "Edit" button . (2) Scroll down and select the "Submit Statement of Organization" radio button. (3) Click "Save" to electronically submit the form to ELECT.

Status of the statement of organization says "Awaiting Acceptance." What does that mean?

ELECT needs an original signed copy of your statement of organization before your committee can be fully accepted into COMET. Faxed or emailed copies are not acceptable. Non-candidate committees, statewide and General Assembly candidate committees must mail the signed original to ELECT. Candidates for the General Assembly must also file a copy of the original with the local electoral board of the candidate’s residence. The statement of organization can be printed from COMET and signed.

Why was my statement of organization rejected?

It was likely rejected because the section labeled "Committee Activity" has no date of first activity (which is required for COMET to set the schedule) or because the incorrect election year was entered. Nevertheless, you will receive an email notice explaining the reason for the rejection. The rejection reason will also display in COMET. To fix this: (1) click the "Edit" button . (2) Make corrections to the appropriate sections. (3) Highlight the radio button to "Submit." (4) Click "Save" to electronically transmit the form to ELECT.