FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Sandra Eligio,

 

Complainant,

 

against Docket #FIC 87-256

 

Town Clerk of East Haven and Republican and Democratic Registrars of Voters of the Town of East Haven,

 

Respondents January 13, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 7, 1987, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:

 

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated September 14, 1987, and filed with the Commission on September 10, 1987, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging the denial of her request for a preliminary registry list of voters.

 

3. The respondent registrars claim they gave the complainant all registry lists and updates promptly.

 

4. The respondent town clerk claims the complainant never requested the records in question from her and that she never had them.

 

5. The respondents further claim that the complaint is frivolous and request a civil penalty be imposed against the complainant.

 

6. It is found that the respondent registrars share one clerical assistant and one office, where they keep voter records for all parties.

 

7. It is found that a few days after August 14, 1987, the complainant requested the respondent Republican registrar provide her with a copy of updated voter registration sheets.

 

Docket #FIC 87-256 Page Two

 

8. It is found that in a letter to the respondent Republican registrar dated September 1, 1987, and received by the registrars' clerical assistant on September 1, 1987, the complainant requested "copies of all new registered G.O.P. voters as of June 1."

 

9. It is found that on September 1, 1987, after the regular business hours of the respondent registrars' office, the respondent democratic registrar met the complainant's campaign manager in a public parking lot and gave him that part of the requested record covering East Haven voting districts two through five.

 

10. It is found that the complainant later received this record from her manager.

 

11. It is found that on several occasions the complainant reiterated her request in person to the registrars' clerical assistant.

 

12. It is found that the record the complainant wanted was an April 22, 1987, computer print-out called a "street sheet," listing voters and their addresses in all five East Haven voting districts, which updated the voter lists from the 1986 general election and which canvassers used from April to September, 1987.

 

13. It is found that the complainant's campaign manager received two copies of this record in July 1987, before the complainant was officially a candidate in local primary elections.

 

14. It is found that the respondent registrars and their clerical assistant assumed the complainant received the complete record described in paragraph 12, above, from her manager and did not understand that it was the update she wanted.

 

15. Nonetheless, it is found that the respondent registrars never gave the complainant herself the record described in paragraph 12, above.

 

16. It is concluded that, in the confusion of a heated political campaign, the respondent registrars may have technically violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by not providing the complainant with a copy of the record described in paragraph 12, above.

 

17. It is found that the registrars or their clerical

 

Docket #FIC 87-256 Page Three

 

assistant provided the complainant with all other updates of voter records promptly as they became available.

 

18. It is found that the complainant never requested the records in question from the respondent town clerk.

 

19. It is found that the complainant's campaign manager did request them from the town clerk and was told she did not have them.

 

20. It is found that the town clerk indeed never had these records.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1. The respondent registrars forthwith shall provide the complainant with a copy of the complete record described in paragraph 12 of the findings, above.

 

2. The respondent registrars henceforth shall act in strict compliance with 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

3. Recognizing that confusion of the sort occurring in this case is likely to occur again when many similar computer print-outs circulate during heated political campaigns, the Commission encourages the respondent registrars to provide all candidates in future local elections with a list of available voter records and a timetable of when updates will be available.

 

4. The complaint against the town clerk is hereby dismissed.

 

5. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty on the complainant.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 13, 1988.

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission