I. Election Records
The following election records are closed pursuant to statutory, case law or Alabama attorney general opinion authority:
1. Voter registration applications. Ala. Code § 17-3-52; 202 Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. 19 (Jan. 24, 1986). But see Op. Att'y Gen. Ala., No. 2005-185, 2005 Ala. AG LEXIS 150 (Aug. 23, 2005) (concluding that "[t]he boards of registrars and probate judges may provide only the names and precincts of registered voters to persons or entities," but that political parties are "entitled to obtain all voter registration information in the possession of the boards of registrars or probate judges, except for social security numbers").
2. The list of registered voters that is used at the polling place in an election, which is marked to indicate the persons voting. Advertiser Co. v. Hobbie, 474 So. 2d 93, 95 (Ala. 1985); see also Ala. Code § 17-9-12 ("The poll list shall be sealed in an envelope before the inspectors begin to count the vote and shall not be opened.").
The following election records are open pursuant to statutory, case law or Alabama attorney general opinion authority:
1. Lists of registered voters, with names and polling places only. Ala. Code §§ 17-4-1; Op. Att'y Gen. Ala., No. 2005-185, 2005 Ala. AG LEXIS 150 (Aug. 23, 2005) (concluding that "[t]he boards of registrars and probate judges may provide only the names and precincts of registered voters to persons or entities," but that political parties are "entitled to obtain all voter registration information in the possession of the boards of registrars or probate judges, except for social security numbers."); 202 Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. 19 (Jan. 24, 1986).
2. Candidate statements, finances, organization of political committee, expenditures, contributions, etc. Ala. Code §§ 17-5-8).
3. Lists of absentee voters. Ala. Code § 17-11-5. In a 1994 election dispute that involved the counting of absentee votes, the federal court judge in Roe v. State, CV 94-885-AH-S (S.D. Ala.), entered a permanent injunction, at the plaintiffs' request, to seal the absentee voter lists in all sixty-seven counties of Alabama in order to protect the lists from alteration or destruction. In April of 1996, The Birmingham News Company filed a petition for access to the lists, citing Alabama Code § 17-10-5 (the predecessor to § 17-11-5) and asking the court to vacate its permanent injunction sealing the lists. By order of April 15, 1996, the court granted the motion and amended the permanent injunction to provide access to the absentee voting lists in Alabama's counties. The Court also ordered the State Attorney General's Office to "continue to protect and maintain the original absentee voting lists from the 1994 elections." Roe v. State, CV 94-885-AH-S (S.D. Ala., Apr. 15, 1996).
4. Lists from which poll workers are appointed. 210 Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. 45 (June 3, 1988).
A master register of all those registered to vote must be maintained by the director of the Division of Elections, AS 15.07.120, and in addition official registration lists must be prepared before each election showing those eligible to vote in each precinct at the election. AS 15.07.125. The register must be updated periodically to delete those who have died or not voted recently, AS 15.07.130, and to add information supplied by municipalities showing who has voted. AS 15.07.137. All of these records are presumptively public and are in fact available. However, the following information set out in state voter registration records is confidential and is not open to public inspection: the voter's age or date of birth; Social Security number, driver's license number; voter identification number; place of birth and signature. In addition a voter may elect in writing to keep the voter's residential address confidential and not open to public inspection if the voter provides a separate mailing address. Information may be released with consent of the voter, pursuant to court order, or in certain other limited cases. AS 15.07.195.
When the count of ballots is completed, and in no event later than the day after the election, the election board shall make a certificate in duplicate of the results. To assure adequate protection the director shall prescribe the manner in which the ballots, registers, and all other election records and materials are thereafter preserved, transferred, and destroyed. AS 15.15.370. Upon completion of the state ballot counting review the director shall certify the results of that review. AS 15.15.450. If it is determined by recount that the plurality of votes was cast for a candidate, the director shall issue a certificate of election or nomination to the elected or nominated candidate as determined by the recount. If it is determined by the recount that a proposition or question should be certified as having received the required vote, the director shall so certify except that the lieutenant governor shall so certify if the proposition or question involves an initiative, a referendum, or a constitutional amendment. AS 15.20.490. The director of elections shall preserve all precinct election certificates, tallies, and registers for four years after the election. All ballots and stubs for elections other than national elections may be destroyed 30 days after the certification of the state ballot counting review unless an application for recount has been filed and not completed, or unless their destruction is stayed by an order of the court. All ballots for national elections may be destroyed in accordance with federal law. The director may permit the inspection of election materials upon call by the Congress, the state legislature, or a court of competent jurisdiction. AS 15.15.470.
A registration form constitutes an official public record once completed and signed by the elector and received by the county recorder. A.R.S. § 16-161. But certain public officials and victims of domestic violence can prevent the general public from accessing their residential address, telephone number, and voting precinct number by filing an affidavit with the state. A.R.S. § 16-153; see Primary Consultants, L.L.C. v. Maricopa Cty. Recorder, 210 Ariz. 393, 397-98, 111 P.3d 435, 439-40 (Ct. App. 2005) (noting that voter registration records are public records subject to certain restrictions).
A form showing a declination to register to vote is confidential and may be used only for voter registration purposes. A.R.S. § 16-140(C). Moreover, public access is prohibited to the death records sent by the Department of Health Services to the Secretary of State for purposes of removing deceased persons from the statewide voter registration database. A.R.S. § 16-165(D).
No partial or complete tallies of early elections will be divulged before all precincts have reported or one hour after the polls close on election day, whichever occurs first. A.R.S. § 16-551(C). The official canvass of an election becomes part of the public record and is kept by the Secretary of State, the appropriate city and town clerks, or the clerk of the board of supervisors. A.R.S. §§ 16-646(B), (D).
The Arizona Secretary of State’s report that includes “information on the number of ballots transmitted to absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters and the number of ballots returned and cast in the election” is available to the public. A.R.S. § 16-142(B).
Arkansas election law received an overhaul in 1995 to bring the state into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973gg, et seq. Applications and statements of absentee voters are maintained by the county clerk and open to the public. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 7-5-408(b), 7-5-416(b)(1)(F).
Campaign contribution reports, which must be filed by candidates, are open to the public and must be posted on the Secretary of State’s web site. Id. § 7-6-214.
Voter registration lists are open. Ark. Const. amend. 51, § 14; Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-109. See Blaylock v. Staley, 293 Ark. 26, 732 S.W.2d 152 (1987); Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 94-218. However, information relating to the place where a person registered to vote, submitted a voter registration application, or updated his or her voter registration records is confidential and exempt from the FOIA, as is information relating to a declination to register to vote. Ark. Const. amend. 51, § 8(e). Moreover, the agencies through which persons may register to vote, such as a state revenue office or a public assistance agency, may not disclose voter registration information. Id. § 5(c)(4)(E).
Voter lists reflecting those persons who voted in an election are open to the public. Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-317(a). See Whorton v. Gaspard, 239 Ark. 715, 393 S.W.2d 773 (1965) (decided under prior law). The results at a given polling place, as well as the overall results as certified by the county board of election commissioners, are also public records. See Ark. Code Ann. §§ 7-5-317, 7-5-527, 7-5-615 & 7-5-701. The ballots themselves are to be kept confidential absent a court order in connection with an election contest or criminal prosecution. Id. § 7-5-702(c).
Disclosure of voter registration records is allowed for election, scholarly, journalistic, political or governmental purposes. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254.4 The California driver's license number, the California identification card number, the Social Security number, any other unique identifier used for purposes of voter identification shown on a voter registration card, as well as the signature of the voter, are confidential. Cal. Elec. Code § 2194(b) & (d). However, other personal information regarding a voter, including home address, telephone number, e-mail address, occupation, precinct number and prior registration information shown on the voter registration card for all registered voters may be disclosed "to any person for election, scholarly, journalistic or political purposes, or for governmental purposes, as determined by the Secretary of State." Cal. Elec. Code § 2194; Cal. Gov't Code § 6254.4 (referencing Section 2194).
Election results are public and generally available on-line through the Secretary of State’s official website. See Statewide Election Results | California Secretary of State.
Referendum, initiative and recall petitions are exempt from disclosure except as to specified individuals, including the proponents of a petition if found to be insufficient. Gov't Code §§ 6253.5 and 6253.6.
Open. Election records are expressly declared open public records by Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-4-504.
Voter registration records are public records under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-2-227.
Ballots are public records open to inspection pursuant to Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-205.5(1)(a). However, the designated election official is not permitted to fulfill a request for the public inspection of ballots during the period commencing with the forty-fifth day preceding election day and concluding with the date either by which the designated election official is required to certify an official abstract of votes cast for the applicable candidate contest or ballot issue or ballot question, or by which any recount is completed, whichever date is later. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-205.5(3)(a).
See Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-210(b)(15) as discussed above in Records Outline at II.A.2.o.
Conn. Gen. Stat. §9-333j(c)(4) states that financial statements filed by a campaign treasurer "shall remain public records of the state for five years."
Conn. Gen. Stat. § §9-36 and 9-39 state that preliminary and final voter registry lists shall be available for public use.
District of Columbia
Not specifically addressed by any exemption. Certain election records are specifically available under D.C. law governing elections, D.C. Code Ann. § 1-1001.01 et seq., and D.C. laws governing campaigns and lobbying, D.C. Code Ann. § 1101.01 et seq. D.C. Code Ann. § 1-1001.09(k) requires the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to implement a "voting system" through which voting results are publicized.
Election records which are not statutorily exempt from Chapter 119 are subject to inspection. Cf. Sentinel Commc’ns Inc. v. Anderson, No. 01-48 CA-SW, 2001 WL 688528 (Fla. Cir. Ct. Jan. 19, 2001) (writ of mandamus issued to compel Supervisor of Elections to mechanically separate for plaintiff newspaper undervotes and overvotes cast on ballots); Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 75-17 (1975) (lists of names and addresses of persons requesting absentee ballots are available for inspection); Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 74-284 (1974) (poll list kept by the election board at the poll place on the day of election is not available to the public until transmission of the poll list and registration books to the supervisor of elections).
Several statutory provisions exist which limit access to election records. For example, investigations of complaints filed with the Division of Elections or the Florida Elections Commission, along with relevant reports and recommendations are exempt from Chapter 119 until disposition of such complaint. Fla. Stat. § 106.25(6) (2013). See Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 77-46 (1977). And, unused and unvoted punch cards from the 2000 presidential election were not public records. Rogers v. Hood, 906 So. 2d 1220 (Fla. 1st DCA 2005).
Although citizens may examine the registration books, copying of such books is prohibited. Fla. Stat. § 98.211 (1995). Information regarding requests for absentee ballots is exempt from disclosure. Fla. Stat.§. 101.62(3) (2014). When ballots are produced for inspection, no person other than the supervisor of elections or his employees may touch the ballots. Fla. Stat. § 119.07(1)(c) (1991).
The Act does not exempt election records. See Rentz v. City of Moultrie, 231 Ga. 579, 203 S.E.2d 216 (1974) (special election petition is public record). Voter registration lists are subject to the Act’s disclosure requirements, but certain personal information is exempt from disclosure. O.C.G.A. § 21-2-225, § 21-2-225.1. Voting results are subject to the Act’s disclosure requirements but particular types of election data may be exempt. See Smith v. DeKalb Cty., 288 Ga. App. 574, 654 S.E.2d 469 (2007) (affirming injunction prohibiting disclosure of election CDs).
A voter’s full name, district/precinct designation, and voter status is open to the public. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-97. All other information provided on the voter registration affidavit, including the voter’s address, is confidential except for “election or government purposes.” Id. OIP has opined that the County Clerk is entitled under the UIPA to deny access to the General County Register to a member of the public who is not seeking the record for “election or government purposes.” OIP Ltr. Op. 04-08 (Apr. 2, 2004).
A 1990 state law that banned public access to voter registration information was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in December 1996. The law, Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-14.6 was determined to violate equal protection rights by arbitrarily denying the public and media access to the records. See "Voter Records Law Ruled Unfair," Honolulu Advertiser, December 17, 1996 at A-1. Representing the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, a Hawaii County newspaper, and other media organizations, attorney Jeffrey S. Portnoy argued for equal access to the voter registration lists for the news organizations. In striking down the law, U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra noted that the law was an "intolerable infringement" on the public's right to know. Id.
In a pre-UIPA case, the City was asked but refused to allow public access to written challenges to voters' registration and to records of an investigation into possible election fraud involving voter registration. Corporation Counsel held that the records were exempt under Section 92 (sections on privacy repealed by UIPA, Chapter 92F) but concluded that the list of stricken voters would be a public record because the public's right to know outweighed the stricken voters' right to privacy. Honolulu Corp. Counsel Op. M82-95 (Nov. 12, 1982).
Election records are generally open to the public. Idaho Code § 74-106(25) specifically exempts the release of “the physical voter registration application on file in the county clerk’s office,” but allows the release of a redacted form. Information from voter registration applications maintained in the statewide voter registration database, including age, will be made available except for the voter’s driver’s license number, date of birth and, upon a showing of good cause, the physical residence address of the voter. Id.
The voter registration database maintained by the State Board of Elections is open. 2002 Op.Atty.Gen. No. 02-009. Election results are open records, unless specifically prohibited by state law as in Kibort v. Westrom, 371 Ill.App.3d 247, 862 N.E.2d 609, 308 Ill.Dec. 676 (2d Dist.2007). Kibort held that under Election Code, an election authority was required to keep ballots sealed for two months after receiving them apart from examination upon statutorily authorized discovery recount proceeding, and tally lists and poll books delivered to county clerk were required to be kept sealed for one year after delivery except for use of certified copies as evidence in election contests and other judicial proceedings, and thus, within such time periods, records from were exempt from disclosure.
Illinois does not allow secret ballots. See WSDR, Inc. v. Ogle County, 100 Ill. App. 3d 1008, 1011, 427 N.E.2d 603, 606 (2d Dist. 1981)
There is no specific provision relating to election records in the Access to Public Records Act. However, under Indiana Code Chapter 3-7-30, certain information about those who register under the National Voter Registration Act (the “motor voter law”) is confidential.
Statewide voter registration lists are governed by Indiana Code Sections 3-7-26.3-1 et seq. Voter registration lists implicate Indiana Code Section 5-14-3-3(f), which does not require giving the public copies of lists unless the agency is “required to publish such lists and disseminate them to the public under a statute.” But if an agency creates a list of names and addresses, it must permit public inspection and creation of memoranda abstracts, unless the law prohibits such access. Id. Laudig v. Marion Cnty. Bd. of Voters Registration addressed this issue. 585 N.E.2d 700, 705–06 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992) (rejecting the petitioner’s argument that he was entitled to a copy of a computer tape containing the voter registration list.
Statewide voter registration information is governed by Indiana Code Sections 3-7-26.4-1 et seq. Publishing registration information under Indiana Code Chapter 3-7-26.4 in a news broadcast or newspaper is prohibited. Ind. Code § 3-7-26.4-11.
Indiana Code Sections 3-7-28-1 et seq. and Sections 3-7-29-1 et seq. govern county voter registration. Under Indiana Code Section 3-7-28-7, copies of registration lists prepared for inspectors shall be kept open for public inspection and copying.
Access to voting results can be found on the Secretary of State’s website: http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/2400.htm.
Ky. Rev. Stat. 116.095 provides that “[t]he county clerk shall permit any citizen, at all reasonable hours, to inspect or make copies of any [voter] registration record, without any fee. He or she shall, upon request, furnish to any citizen a copy of the registration records, for which he or she may charge necessary duplicating costs not to exceed fifty cents ($0.50) per page.”
Individual voting results are closed. Ky. Rev. Stat. 118.025(1) (“voting in all elections shall be by secret ballot on voting machines.”) Aggregate voting results by precinct are open. Ky. Rev. Stat. 117.275.
Voter registration records are subject to the Act, except for “the name and address of a law enforcement officer in the custody of the registrar of voters or the secretary of state, if certified by the law enforcement agency employing the officer that the officer is engaging in hazardous activities to the extent that it is necessary for his name and address to be kept confidential.” La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44:4(23).
The Maine Clean Elections Act is part of Title 21-A of the Maine Revised Statutes, which broadly provides that “[a]ll lists, books, documents and records required to be prepared by or filed with a public official are public records, except as otherwise provided in this Title. Public records are open to public inspection during regular business hours under proper protective regulations made by the official charged with their custody.” 21-A M.R.S.A. § 22(1).
The MCEA provides that “[r]ecords containing information provided by individuals who have made qualifying contributions over the Internet are confidential, except for the name of the individual making the contribution, the date of the contribution, the individual’s residential address and the name and office sought of the candidate in whose support the contribution was made.” 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1125(3) (emphasis added). The MCEA does not provide for any confidentiality with regard to information provided by individuals who make qualifying contributions by cash, check, or money order or who sign a paper “Receipt and Acknowledgement” form.
The MCEA provides that “[a] participating candidate must submit qualifying contributions, receipts and acknowledgment forms, proof of verification of voter registration and a seed money report to the commission . . .” pursuant to 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1125(4). These submissions are not exempt from the FOAA.
The Commission may receive complaints from any person related to noncompliance with the Act pursuant to Code Me.R. 94-270, Chapt. 1 § 2(c). The MCEA does not provide that any complaints are confidential.
The exception to public access to records related to Commission investigations is found at 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1003(3-A), which provides that “investigative working papers,” as narrowly defined, are confidential.
Maine has a central registration system which is maintained by the Secretary of State’s office. 21-A M.R.S.A. § 172. Each voter’s registration information is kept in this file except for those voters who enroll in the Address Confidentiality Program in which case the residence information for that voter must be kept under seal is not subject to public inspection. Id.; 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1(21); see also 21-A M.R.S.A. 122-A (address confidentiality program).
Ballots must be counted publicly so that those present may observe the proceedings. 21-A M.R.S.A. § 695(1). In addition, as soon as the ballots are counted, the results must be made public at the voting place. 21-A M.R.S.A. § 695(3). The ballots themselves are not public records and may be inspected only in accordance with Maine election law. 21-A M.R.S.A § 22.
The records from pre-election voter listings to post-election result certifications are open. This includes all information regarding voter registration. See G.L. c. 51, § 40 (registrars' records shall at suitable times be open to public inspection); § 41 (registrars shall preserve all documents in their custody relative to listing and registration, for two years after the dates thereof, provided that affidavits of registration shall be preserved and shall be deemed to be public records); § 55 (voting lists shall be printed and made available to any person, at a reasonable fee not to exceed the cost of printing the list, upon request).
The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth is required by G.L. c. 51, § 47C to maintain a Central Voter Registry. According to the statute, the names and addresses listed therein are not public records, and are only open to statewide committees. The Attorney General has stated, however, that other voter information in the Central Registry (e.g., voter's party enrollment, effective date of registration) is not exempt and should be available to statewide committees and the public. The Office of the Secretary is obligated to provide access to voter information regardless of other means of access. Opp. Atty. Gen. No. 01/02-1 (Oct. 11, 2001).
If voter or address information is needed, a good source is the street list of all known inhabitants age 17 or older of a given city or town. This list is revised annually and is available from the city or town clerk. G.L. c. 51, §§ 6-7.
Nomination certificates and certificates of election results are public records (G.L. c. 54, § 117), as are information regarding initiative and referendum petitions (G.L. c. 54, § 54) and campaign finance data. (G.L. c. 55, §§ 25-26).
Sealed absentee ballots are private until opened by an election judge. Minn. Stat. § 13.37, subd. 2(a).
A public information list of voter registration records for each county must be made available to the public, which includes voter name, address, year of birth, telephone number, voting history, and party choice of any voter who voted in the most recent presidential nomination primary. Minn. Stat. § 201.091, subd. 4. The county auditor may adopt reasonable rules governing access to the list. Id. Upon receipt of a statement signed by the voter that withholding the voter's name from the public information list is required for the safety of the voter or the voter's family, the secretary of state and county auditor must withhold from the public information list the name of the registered voter. Id.
Election records are open. Att'y Gen. Nov. 2, 1994 to Gunn. Voter registration records are open, except for Social Security numbers, phone numbers, age and date of birth. §23-15-167(a), (b). Att’y Gen. No. 2009-25, Feb. 13, 2009 to Ivy. Voter registration records are open, as are voting results.
Open after the canvass has been completed. Mont. Code Ann. § 13-15-301. Unless specifically provided otherwise, all records pertaining to voter registration and elections are public. They must be available for inspection during regular office hours. Mont. Code Ann. § 13-1-109. The canvass of all votes is open to the public. Mont. Code Ann. § 13-15-403.
The original signed voter registration form is available for public inspection unless the voter’s social security number appears on it. 38 Mont. A.G. Op. 65 (1980). Note: It may be possible to obtain a redacted copy of such a form, with the social security number concealed.
Lists of all persons voting in a county are open to public inspection. Neb. Rev. Stat. §32-937 (Reissue 2016). Applications for absentee ballots and absentee voter books are open to public inspection. Neb. Rev. Stat. §32-948 (Reissue 2016).
The Voter Registration Register is available for public inspection but may not be copied. Neb. Rev. Stat. §32-330 (Reissue 2016). A list of registered voters minus personal identification information is available for sale by the Secretary of State.
Returns may not be released until polls close. Neb. Rev. State. §32-1545 (Reissue 2016). Election results are public record although the Secretary of State may charge a fee. Neb. Rev. Stat. §32-1036 (Reissue 2016).
N.J.S.A. 19:31-3.2 provides: a. A person who is (1) a victim of domestic violence who has obtained a permanent restraining order against a defendant pursuant to section 13 of the "Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991," P.L. 1991, c. 261 (C. 2C:25-29) and fears further violent acts by the defendant, or (2) a victim of stalking, or member of the immediate family of such a victim as defined by paragraph (3) of subsection a. of section 1 of P.L. 1992, c. 209 (C. 2C:12-10), who is protected under the terms of a permanent restraining order issued pursuant to section 3 of P.L. 1996, c. 39 (C. 2C:12-10.1) and who fears death or bodily injury from the defendant against whom that order was issued, shall be allowed to register to vote without disclosing the person's street address. Such a person shall leave the space for a street address on the original permanent registration form blank and shall, instead, attach to the form a copy of the permanent restraining order and a note which indicates that the person fears future violent acts by the defendant and which contains a mailing address, post office box or other contact point where mail can be received by the person. Upon receipt of the person's voter registration form, the commissioner of registration in all counties having a superintendent of elections, and the county board of elections in all other counties, shall provide the person with a map of the municipality in which the person resides which shows the various voting districts. The person shall indicate to the commissioner or board, as appropriate, the voting district in which the person resides and shall be permitted to vote at the polling place for that district. If such a person thereafter changes residences, the person shall so inform the commissioner or board by completing a new permanent registration form in the manner described above.
- Any person who makes public any information which has been provided by a victim of domestic violence, or by a victim of stalking or the family member of such a victim, pursuant to subsection a. of this section concerning the mailing address, post office box or other contact point of the victim or family member or the election district in which the victim or family member resides is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
N.J.S.A. 19:31-6.4(d) provides that “the commissioner of registration shall furnish such registration forms upon request in person to any person or organization in such reasonable quantities as such person or organization shall request. The commissioner shall furnish no fewer than two such forms to any person upon request by mail or by telephone.”
N.J.S.A. 19:31-10 provides:
The original and duplicate registration forms when filled out shall be filed alphabetically by districts at the office of the commissioner in separate sets of locked binders, one for the permanent office record and the other for use in the polling places on election days. Each set of the locked binders of original and duplicate registration forms shall consist of two volumes for each election district to be known as volume I and volume II. Volume I shall contain an index alphabetically arranged beginning with the letter "A" and ending with the letter "K", and volume II shall contain a similar index beginning with the letter "L" and ending with the letter "Z". In filing the forms there shall be inserted after the original and duplicate registration forms of each registrant a record of voting form with the corresponding serial number and the name and address of the registrant thereon. The binders containing the duplicate registration forms and the corresponding record of voting forms shall constitute and be known as the signature copy registers.
The original registration forms shall not be open to public inspection except during such period as the duplicate registration forms are in process of delivery to or from the district boards or in the possession of such district boards. The original registration forms shall not be removed from the office of the commissioner except upon the order of a court of competent jurisdiction. The signature copy registers shall at all times, except during the time as above provided and subject to reasonable rules and regulations be open to public inspection.
N.J.S.A 19:31-18.1 provides:
- The county clerk in all counties shall cause copies of the registry lists, certified and transmitted under R.S.19:31-18, to be printed, and shall furnish to any voter applying for the same such copies, charging therefore $ 0.25 per copy of the list of voters of each election district. The clerk shall also furnish five printed copies thereof to each district board, which shall within two days post two such registry lists, one in the polling place and one in another conspicuous place within the election district. The county clerk shall also forthwith deliver to the superintendent of elections of the county, if any there be, and to the chairmen of the county committees of each of the several political parties in the county, five copies of the lists of voters of each election district in the county; and to the municipal clerk of each of the municipalities in the county five copies of the lists of voters of each election district in such municipality; and to the county board 10 copies of the lists of voters of each election district in each of such municipalities. The county clerk shall also, upon the request of the chairman of the State committee of any of the several political parties, but not more than once in each calendar year, forthwith deliver a copy of the lists of voters of each election district in each of the municipalities in his county. In no case shall a list of registered voters furnished pursuant to this section include voter signatures. The county clerk shall satisfy the request by delivery of a computer-generated or electronic copy of the list for the county from the Statewide voter registration system.
- The commissioner of registration shall furnish a computer-generated or electronic copy of a list of registered voters in any or all election districts in the county to any voter requesting it, for which copy such commissioner shall make a charge which shall be uniform in any calendar year and which shall reflect only the cost of reproducing the list, but which in any case shall not exceed $ 375.
- No person shall use voter registration lists or copies thereof prepared pursuant to this section as a basis for commercial or charitable solicitation of the voters listed thereon. Any person making such use of such lists or copies thereof shall be a disorderly person, and shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $ 500.00.
N.J.S.A. 19:31-23 provides:
Following each election the commissioner shall cause the record of voting as shown on the record of voting forms in the signature copy registers or, in counties in which polling records are used in place of those signature copy registers pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1994, c.170 (C.19:31-3.3), as shown in the polling records, to be entered on the record of voting forms in the original registration binders and the Statewide voter registration system. An entry of any record of voting which shall have been made in the system shall be retained for a period of not less than ten years following the election at which the vote so recorded was cast.
Certain information from voter databases may only be disclosed with the county clerk’s authorization and must not be used for unlawful purposes. NMSA 1978 § 1-4-5.5(C).
“Voter registration lists maintained by the secretary of state and voter registration certificates filed with the county clerks are not covered by [§ 1-4-5.5, NMSA 1978] and are public records that must be disclosed as provided by law.” New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, Inspection of Public Records Act Compliance Guide 16 (8th ed. 2015). In disclosing voter data, “the county clerk or secretary of state shall not provide data or lists that include voters’ social security numbers, codes used to identify agencies where voters have registered, a voter’s day and month of birth or voters’ telephone numbers if prohibited by voters.” NMSA 1978, § 1-4-5.5(B) (2015). The statute does not specify whether “voting data” includes individual voting results.
Voting results are open, see, e.g., N.M. Const. art. XX, §7.
Gates v. Dyson, 55 A.D.2d 705, 389 N.Y.S.2d 154 (3d Dep’t 1976) (granting access to records regarding referendum on extension of dairy promotion order); Reese v. Mahoney, (Sup. Ct., Erie Cty., June 28, 1984) (granting access to computer tapes with voter telephone numbers and voter histories).
Election records generally are open, and the North Carolina election laws include some specific provisions specifying the public character of certain categories of election records.
Voter Registration Records. G.S. § 166-82.10, which governs the compilation and release of voter registration records, provides that:
Upon request . . . the county board of elections shall provide to any person a list of the registered voters of the county or of any precinct or precincts in the county. The same section provides that a county board of elections may, upon request, furnish “selective lists” according to party affiliation, sex, race, date of registration and various other categories. Persons provided with such “selective lists” must reimburse the board for the actual costs incurred in their compilation. The county boards may charge service fees up to $25.00 for providing such lists in magnetic or electronic media. By submitting a written request to the State Board of Elections, any person may obtain a magnetic copy of the statewide computerized voter registration data base. Anyone who obtains a copy of the database must reimburse the State Board of Elections for the actual costs incurred in preparing it. G.S. § 163-82.13(b).
Dates of Birth and Other Personal Data Exempt from Disclosure. The data provided by boards of election may include the age, but not the date of birth, of an individual voter. G.S. § 163-82.10B. Election officials also may not release electronic images of the signatures of voters; full or partial Social Security numbers; or driver license numbers. G.S. § 163082.10.
Registry of Absentee Ballots. G.S. § 163-228 provides that each county’s register of absentee ballot applications and ballots issued “shall constitute a public record,” and shall be open to inspection by any registered voter of the county at any time within 50 days before and 30 days after an election in which absentee ballots were authorized, and at other times as necessary. G.S. § 163-232 requires that the chairman of each county board of elections compile a certified list of executed absentee ballots. The county board must file one copy with the State Board of Elections and keep another available for public inspection. The chief election judge of each precinct is required to post one copy of the precinct absentee ballot list “in a conspicuous location in the voting place.”
Campaign Finance Reports. All campaign finance reports required to be filed by candidates for public office are filed with the State Board of Elections. Such reports are public records. G.S. §§ 163-278.9, 163278.22(4).
Voter registration records. Individual voter registration information is public with the exception of full or partial social security numbers, dates of birth, the identity of the public agency at which the voter registered, and driver’s license numbers. G.S. §§ 163-82.10(a). The signature on the registration may be viewed but not copied. Id.
Voting results. Voted ballots and records of individual voted ballots are confidential and shall not be disclosed to members of the public. G.S. § 163-165.1.
North Dakota is the only state without voter registration.
A central voter file and pollbooks are maintained by the secretary of state and county auditors. County auditors must generate a pollbook for each precinct in the county from the central voter file by the day before an election. N.D.C.C. § 16.1-02-13. With the exception of a “secured active” record and the voter’s birth date and identification number, which are exempt records, the precinct pollbooks are open records. N.D.C.C. § 16.1-02-13. A secured active record indicates an individual who is protected by a protection order or disorderly conduct restraining order. N.D.C.C. § 16.1-02-07.
A voter list or a report generated from the central voter file may be made available to a candidate, political party, or a political committee for election related-purposes, but may not be sold or distributed for non-election-related purposes. N.D.C.C. § 16.1-02-15. The information available to the candidate, political party, or political committee includes the name, addresses, unique identifier, location, and four years of voting history of an individual. N.D.C.C. § 16.1-02-15. A voter’s birth date and state identification number is exempt, as is a secured active record. N.D.C.C. § 16.1-02-15.
After the polls are closed, the inspector of elections and the judges must immediately generate the canvass report from the electronic voting system. N.D.C.C. § 16.1-15-02. The ballots counted by the machine must be equal in number with the names on the poll clerks’ lists. N.D.C.C. § 16.1-15-02. The canvass must continue without adjournment until completed and must be open to the public. N.D.C.C. § 16.1-15-02.
The records of county boards of elections are public records. Ohio Rev. Code § 3501.31(C). Provisional ballots are kept sealed and confidential, and Ohio has created a system for an individual voter to check on the status of their own ballot. Ohio Rev. Code. § 3505.181(B)(5)(b). In 2011, the Ohio Attorney General issued an opinion stating, “[a] provisional ballot envelope is a “public record” subject to release once the time has passed during which a board of elections is required to preserve ballots under seal.” 2011 Ohio Op. Att'y Gen. No. 2011-012 (Apr. 13, 2011)
Voter registration records are public records. See State ex rel. Dispatch Printing Co. v. Johnson, 106 Ohio St.3d 160, 833 N.E.2d 274 (2005) (noting that the fact that home addresses were available in certain public records, including voter registration records, does not extinguish state employees’ privacy interests in that information).
Voter registration records may be obtained on CD from the Oklahoma State Election Board. A fee schedule ranges from $10 for a precinct to $150 for statewide. The state election board may promulgate rules to keep confidential the residence and mailing address of voters who are members of certain classes, including judges, district attorneys, persons protected by victim’s protection orders, etc. 26 O.S. § 4-115.2.
While there is no specific provision in the Open Records Act addressing election materials, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has determined that state statutes distinguish between “record” and “ballot” and a “ballot” is not a business record of the Election Board subject to disclosure under the Act. Milton v. Hayes, 1989 OK 12, 770 P.2d 14. The Court further held that should the ballot be a record, it would fall under the exception in the Act which requires a public body to keep confidential records that are not discoverable under state law. The ballot is deemed confidential.
Elector information is available for inspection as specified in ORS 247.940 and 945. Under ORS 247.965, voters may request that addresses be exempted from disclosure, and such an exemption remains in effect until the voter requests it be terminated or updates his/her registration information. Under ORS 247.973 no one but an election official may make a copy or provide a copy of a voter’s signature. Additionally, ORS 247.955 prohibits use of voter registration lists for commercial purposes.
There is no statute specifically addressing election results or suggesting different treatment for such records. In 38 Op Atty Gen 1318, October 13, 1977, the Oregon Attorney General concluded that an election officer may not refuse inspection of poll book solely because inspection may disclose how a particular elector voted.
The election records of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, including “all returns, nomination petitions, certificates and papers,” must be open to public inspection and may be inspected and copied by any person qualified to vote in Pennsylvania. 25 Pa. C.S.A. § 2622.
The records of county boards of election, except for the contents of ballot boxes and voting machines, must be open for inspection and copying by any person qualified to vote in Pennsylvania. 25 Pa. C.S.A. § 2648.
In each case, the inspection must take place in the presence of a board or commission member or a representative of the secretary of the Commonwealth. Id.
These are open and no exemption to disclosure seems applicable.
Official registration records are public records subject to inspection of any citizen at all times. S.C. Code Ann. § 7-5-410.
County Boards of Canvassers to make statements of votes and transmit results to State Board of Canvassers. S.C. Code Ann. § 7-17-20. Neither the law nor custom indicate that voting results are not public.
There is no provision excepting election records from presumption of openness. Further, there are specific openness requirements. A county auditor’s tabulations of unofficial returns are public. SDCL §12-20-13. Absentee ballots counted in public. SDCL §12-19-44. Official county canvasses filed by auditors with secretary of state are permanent state records. SDCL §12-20-38.1. Board of state canvassers abstracts also are filed and kept by secretary of state. SDCL §12-20-48. Voter registration records are open. SDCL §12-4-9 Voting results are open. SDCL §12-20-38.1.
In Chattanooga Publ'g Co. v. Hamilton County, 2003 Tenn. App. LEXIS 767 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 8, 2003) the court granted a request for records of registered voters and a list of all persons who voted in a Democratic primary despite the fact that these records had been delivered to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation after the request had been made. To hold otherwise, the court ruled would allow a records custodian to avoid the requirements of the Act by merely sending the records to the TBI, which does have an exemption for its records.
Voting results are presumably open, but see T.C.A. § 2-11-202(a)(5) (reports of election law violation investigation conducted by the Coordinator of Elections are closed).
Texas election laws provide that, once the polls for a particular election are closed, a list of registered voters who cast ballots is public. Tex. Att'y Gen. ORD-38 (1974). Further, nominating petitions for primary elections in the custody of political parties are available for public inspection under the Open Records Act. (1980) Tex. Atty. Gen. Op., No. MW-175.
Applications to register to vote that are on file with a county registrar constitute public information. Nixon v. Slagle, 885 S.W.2d 658, 661 (Tex. App.—Tyler 1994, no writ).
Voted ballots from a primary election become public records available for inspection after a 22-month retention period required by state law, but public copying of the computer programs used to tabulate the votes would violate federal copyright law. Tex. Att'y Gen. ORD-505 (1988).
Voter registration records, including a person’s voting history, are public except for those parts “identifying a voter’s (i) driver license or identification card number; (ii) Social Security number, or last four digits of the Social Security number; (iii) email address; or (iv) date of birth.” Utah Code §§ 63G-2-301(l), -302(j).
a. After paper ballots have been read and tallied, the judges “shall . . . string the counted, excess, and spoiled ballots on separate strings,” Utah Code § 20A-4-106(1)(a)(i), and “shall carefully seal all of the strung ballots in a strong envelope.” Id. § 20A-4-106(1)(b). The strung ballots may not be examined by anyone, except during an authorized recount. Id. § 20A-4-106(1)(a)(ii).
b. The official register, pollbook, tally sheets, etc. shall be sealed in a “strong envelope or pouch” before the judges adjourn. Id. § 20A-4-106(4)(a). All challenges to an individual’s right to cast a ballot must be recorded in the official register and on the challenge sheets in the pollbook. Id. § 20A-3-202(2); -202.5(2). “All documents pertaining to a voter challenge are public records.” Id. § 20A-3-202.3(8).
c. The election officer shall preserve ballots and all other official election returns for 22 months, after which time if no election contest is commenced, he must “destroy them without opening or examining them.” Id. § 20A-4-202(2).
d. “The board of canvassers shall canvass the election returns by publicly opening the returns and determining from them the votes of each voting precinct for: (i) each person voted for; and (ii) for and against each ballot proposition voted upon at the election.” Id. § 20A-4-303(1)(a).
e. In the case of a contested election, where an inspection of the ballots is necessary for the determination of the election contest, the judge may require the election officials to deliver the unopened ballots to the court, where the “judge shall: (i) open and inspect the ballots in open court in the presence of the parties or their attorneys; and immediately after the inspection, seal them in an envelope and return them . . . to their legal custodian.” Id. § 20A-4-404(3)(b).
f. Campaign finance statements filed by candidates for municipal office must be made available for public inspection and copying no later than one business day after the statement is filed. Id. § 10-3-208(7).
In 2011, the Vermont Supreme Court determined that cast ballots are subject to public records requests after the 90-day, post-election waiting period is complete. Price v. Town of Fairlee, 2011 Vt 48, ¶¶ 13-18, 190 Vt. 66, 72-75, 26 A.3d 26, 31-33. The 90-day waiting period is designed to maintain the integrity of cast ballots in the event of a recount, but once the 90 days has lapsed, the state cannot deny access to such ballots. Id. After 90 days, the state is also permitted to destroy any ballots in its possession, unless there is a pending public records request. 17 V.S.A. § 2590(d) (“[B]allots and tally sheets shall be retained for a period of 90 days from the date of the election, after which time they may be destroyed.”).
Certain voter information will be excluded from public records requests including “a registered voter’s month and day of birth, driver’s license or nondriver identification number, telephone number, e-mail address, and the last four digits of his or her Social Security number contained in a voter registration application or the statewide voter checklist established under 17 V.S.A. § 2154 or the failure to register to vote under 17 V.S.A. § 2145a.” 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(31). If a public records request is pending, state and local governments are not permitted to destroy the ballots even after the 90 day waiting period has passed.
Records relating to names removed from the voter checklist are subject to disclosure; however, records relating to a person’s decision not to register to vote or to the identity of the voter registration agency through which any particular voter registered are not subject to disclosure. 17 V.S.A. § 2150(a)(7).
The available voter records shall include:
(A) in the case of each name removed from the checklist, a clear statement of the reason or reasons for which the name was removed; (B) in the case of the updating of the checklist required by subsection (c) of this section, the working copy or copies of the checklist used in the name by name review conducted to ascertain continued eligibility to vote; (C) the total number of new registrations occurring during the period between general elections; (D) the total number of persons removed from the checklist during the period between general elections; and (E) lists of the names and addresses of all persons to whom notices were sent under this subsection, and information concerning whether or not each person to whom a notice was sent responded to the notice as of the date that inspection of the records is made.
17 V.S.A. § 2150(a)(7).
Registration records shall be opened to inspection by any registered voter. Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-444. However, no voter registration record containing an individual's Social Security number shall be made available for inspection or copying by anyone. Id. No voter registration record containing the residence address of an individual who has furnished a post office box address shall be made available for inspection or copying. Id. Registration records are open for inspection, but the Code does not guarantee the right to copy those records.
Certified abstracts of votes are subject to the Act, but the provisions of the Act do not apply until the results have been finally determined. Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-677. High school election votes need not be disclosed, based on a very broad reading of the scholastic records exclusion. Wall v. Fairfax County Sch. Bd., 252 Va. 156, 475 S.E.2d 803 (1996).
Voter poll books are to be made available under RCW 29A.08.720, but they cannot be used for commercial, nonpolitical purposes. Maps of precinct boundaries are to be made available under RCW 29A.16.050(7). The voter’s name, gender, voting records, date of registration and registration number are available for inspection and copying from voter registration cards, RCW 29A.08.710(2), though the identity of the office at which an individual registered to vote is not. RCW 29A.08.720. Information from absentee ballot applications is available under RCW 29A.40.130.
The Washington Secretary of State has found that referendum and initiative petitions are subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act, a practice that was generally upheld against a First Amendment challenge in Doe v. Reed, 130 S. Ct. 3348 (2010).
Campaign financing disclosure is required under RCW 42.17.030-.135. Lobbyists must register with the Public Disclosure Commission and make certain reports available under RCW 42.17.150-.230. Public officials must disclose their financial affairs under RCW 42.17.240-.241. Political advertising must be disclosed under RCW 42.17.510-.550. County auditor or county elections officer reports of primaries and elections are to be disclosed under RCW 29A.04.225 and 42.17.375.
A voter’s name, gender, voting records, date of registration and registration number are available for inspection and copying from voter registration cards, RCW 29A.08.710(2), though the identity of the office at which an individual registered to vote is not. RCW 29A.08.720. Information from absentee ballot applications is available under RCW 29A.40.130. The Washington Secretary of State has found that referendum and initiative petitions are subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act, a practice that was generally upheld against a First Amendment challenge in Doe v. Reed, 130 S. Ct. 3348 (2010).
County auditor or county elections officer reports of primaries and elections are to be disclosed under RCW 29A.04.225 and 42.17.375
Election records are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Additionally, several statutes specifically mandate particular records to be maintained as public records open to inspection. See W. Va. Code § 3-1-7 (d)(clerk of county commission must keep a bound book recording all proceedings creating or changing precincts or establishing or changing voting places or precincts); W. Va. Code § 3-6-9 (county commission must keep a complete record of all vote canvassing proceedings).
However, after election results are declared by a board of canvassers, the ballots, registration records, pollbooks, tally sheets and precinct certificates must be deposited with the clerk of the county commission who must preserve them for twenty-two months and if there is no contest pending as to any election and their further preservation is not required by court order, the ballots, pollbooks, tally sheets and certificates required by statute to be destroyed without opening the sealed packages of ballots. If there is a contest, these records must be destroyed when the contest ends. W. Va. Code § 3-6-9(i).
There is one very narrow caveat to the general rule that election information must be disclosed to FOIA requesters. In State ex rel. Daily Gazette Co. v. Bailey, 152 W. Va. 521, 164 S.E.2d 414 (1968), the West Virginia Supreme Court addressed whether certificates of nomination to place a candidate for President and Vice-President of the United States on the ballot were not public records required to be disclosed under pre-FOIA state open records statutes. Bailey concluded that “[c]ertificates of nomination signed and filed pursuant to [state law] do not constitute public records.” Bailey, Syl. Pt. 1. This conclusion was based on the Court’s determination that certificates of nomination were the functional equivalent of the candidate nominating processes used by the major political parties and thus entitled to the same protection from public disclosure as the “secret ballot.”
A major deciding factor in Bailey was the Legislature's mandate that “no person signing such [nomination] certificate shall vote at any primary election to be held to nominate candidates for office to be voted for at the election to be held next after date of signing such certificate[.]” See, Shepherdstown Observer, Inc. v. Maghan, 226 W. Va. 353, 700 S.E.2d 805 (W. Va. 2010) (distinguishing Bailey). “In all aspects, a person signing a nominating certificate was casting a primary ballot for his or her candidate and had thus voted. It was for this reason that we held in syllabus Point 2 of Bailey that: “[a] qualified voter who signs a certificate ... effectively casts his vote for the nomination of the candidate named therein and his vote, except where necessarily revealed, is entitled to the same secrecy as one cast in a primary election.” Shepherdstown Observer, Inc. v. Maghan, 226 W. Va. at 360-61, 700 S.E.2d at 812-13.
In Shepherdstown Observer, a county clerk asserted that a petition seeking a referendum election on a zoning ordinance was exempt from disclosure under the pre-FOIA decision in State ex rel. Daily Gazette Co. v. Bailey.
The Shepherdstown Observer Court rejected the trial court’s conclusion that no valid purpose existed for making the signatures appearing on a referendum petition public and that a referendum petition should be treated, under Bailey, as a ballot cast and therefore “entitled to the same secrecy as one cast in [an] election,” 226 W. Va. at 361, 700 S.E.2d at 813.
The Court held the circuit court had erred in holding that signatures on a referendum petition were the functional equivalent of a secret ballot, that disclosing the names of signatories on a referendum petition could have an unconstitutional chilling effect on the ability of citizens to petition the government in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article III, §§ 7 and 16 of the Constitution of West Virginia. Id. Finding that disclosure of a referendum petition under the FOIA “serves a vital function in protecting the integrity of the electoral process and in promoting transparency and accountability in the “conduct of the public's business” the Court saw “nothing in our state law or state Constitution that would bar disclosure of the referendum petition at issue pursuant to a FOIA request.” Shepherdstown Observer, 226 W. Va. at 362-63, 700 S.E.2d at 814-15.
While there are no cases construing FOIA in the context of voter registration records or the results of voting, such records have been routinely made available to the public upon request.
All election records of a county are public unless specifically exempted. Registration lists are available for political purposes only and are not available for commercial purposes. Personally identifiable information, such as Social Security Numbers, driver's license numbers, birth dates and telephone numbers, are confidential. Names, gender and addresses are not confidential.
All election records of a county are public unless specifically exempted. Registration lists are available for political purposes only and are not available for commercial purposes. Personally identifiable information, such as Social Security Numbers, driver's license numbers, birth dates and telephone numbers, are confidential. Names, gender and addresses are not confidential.