WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed that mutual funds and other companies seeking exemptions under the Investment Company Act of 1940 submit their applications electronically so investors can access them sooner and the commission can consider them more quickly.

The SEC’s proposed rule amendments would require that new or amended applications for orders under any section of the Investment Company Act and Regulation E filings of small business investment companies and business development companies be filed as electronic submissions. Internet availability of these exemptive applications on the commission’s EDGAR system would improve public access, which in the past has been limited to obtaining hard copies through the SEC’s Public Reference Branch or through private services for a fee.

Creating a uniform electronic repository of exemptive applications also would enable mutual funds and their advisers to more easily obtain previous applications to use as models for their own applications, the SEC said.

The proposed rule changes also would eliminate certain administrative tasks for applicants, including requirements that a draft notice be submitted as an exhibit to the application and that certain documents accompanying an application be notarized.

“This is another step in our commitment to making public filings available electronically for the benefit of investors,” said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. “This proposal would significantly improve public access to exemptive applications through the Internet, and at the same time will eliminate unnecessary administrative requirements for filers.”

The SEC is seeking comments on the proposed rule amendments up until Dec. 14.