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West Virginia high court to hear case over petition signatures

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  1. Freedom of Information
West Virginia's high court agreed last week to hear a local newspaper’s freedom-of-information case over whether the names on a…

West Virginia’s high court agreed last week to hear a local newspaper’s freedom-of-information case over whether the names on a voter-referendum petition can be disclosed to the public, The (Martinsburg) Journal reported.

The Shepherdstown Observer has sued a county clerk who has refused the newspaper’s public records request for the names of people who signed a petition on a zoning referendum.

The county clerk claims that the signatures were collected by a private group before being submitted to the government and thus cannot be released. A lower court agreed.

Although the vote on the county zoning referendum took place Nov. 7, the issue of whether the petition names are public record has much broader implications for state freedom of information laws, including whether any document prepared by an outside agency and later filed with the government can be released, The Journal reported.