In the Matter of a Complaint by


Christopher C. Noble,






Docket #FIC 2000-531

Director, Elections Division,
State of Connecticut, Office
of the Secretary of the State;
and State of Connecticut,
Office of the Secretary of the State,




 February 28, 2001





The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 20, 2000, 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 and conclusions of law are reached:


1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.


2.      By letter dated August 30, 2000 to the respondents, the complainant made a request for “a current copy of the compact disk containing the Central Voter Registration list for the towns and cities in the State of Connecticut” (hereinafter “the list”).


3.      By letter dated September 13, 2000 to the complainant, the respondent director informed the complainant that, to date, only 138 towns and cities utilize the system and that the cost for the list on compact disk is $300.00.


4.      By letter dated September 24, 2000 and filed on September 26, 2000, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by charging more than is allowed by statute for a  copy of records stored on computer.  The complainant also alleged that the excessive charges precluded him from obtaining the list, thereby functionally denying him access to such list on compact disk.


5.      Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:


[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.  Any rule or regulation, or part thereof, that conflicts with the provisions of this subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights granted by this subsection shall be void.


6.      Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record . . . .”


7.      It is found that the requested record is public record within the meaning of §1-210(a), G.S.


8.      Section 1-211(a), G.S., provides that:


[a]ny public agency which maintains public records in a computer storage system shall provide, to any person making a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, a copy of any nonexempt data contained in such records, properly identified, on paper, disk, tape or any other electronic storage device or medium requested by the person, if the agency can reasonably make such copy or have such a copy made.  Except as otherwise provided by state statute, the cost for providing a copy of such data shall be in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.


9.      Section 1-212(b), G.S., provides in relevant part that:


[t]he fee for any copy provided in accordance with subsection (a) of section 1-211 shall not exceed the cost thereof to the public agency.  In determining such costs for a copy, other than for a printout which exists at the time that the agency responds to the request for such copy, an agency may include . . .(4) [t]he computer time charges incurred by the agency in providing the requested computer-stored public record where another agency or contractor provides the agency with computer storage and retrieval services. 


10.  It is found that the list is the product of the electronic voter list project undertaken by the Office of the Secretary of the State in which, at the time of the hearing on this matter, 138 towns and cities voluntarily participate.   The registrars of voters in the participating towns and cities agree to store their voter registration information electronically on a computer terminal connected to a mainframe that incorporates the voter registration information from all participating towns and cities into one centralized list. 


11.  It is found that at any time, any of the 138 registrars can access their information to update their existing voter registration information or to add new voter registration information.  Consequently, the centralized list changes and it changes at the same time any changes are made by a registrar.


12.  It is found that the list is stored on a mainframe housed and maintained by the State Department of Information and Technology (“DOIT”) pursuant to the contracted vendor/vendee relationship that exists between the respondents and DOIT.  Pursuant to said relationship, DOIT provides certain computer services to the respondents and bills the respondents for such services.


13.  It is found that the process for producing a copy of the voter registration list on a computer disk from the mainframe is as follows:


a.       a requester is informed that the copying is usually done on the weekend because the process takes several hours and can only be done when changes aren’t being made to the list by registrars of voters;


b.      the respondent submits a request to DOIT to run the batch program;


c.       once the batch program is run, the information is compressed and sent to a computer terminal at the Office of the Secretary of the State where the information is decompressed and transferred onto the compact disk(s) which is provided to the requester.


14.  It is found that after all the information has been transferred onto compact disks, the information is generally deleted from the computer terminal at the Office of the Secretary of the State because the database uses a great deal of computer memory.


15.  It is found that the cost to the Office of the Secretary of the State to obtain the most current copy of the centralized list is $1,702.29, which is the computer time charged by DOIT for providing the respondents with computer storage and retrieval services and that cost is incurred each time the Office of the Secretary of the State requests a batch to be run.


16.  The complainant contends that the charge to the public for a copy of the list is excessive and serves as a denial of access to the list. The complainant also contends that the cost should not exceed $75.00.  The complainant further contends that he would have accepted a copy of the list on a disk generated from a previous request and that the respondents should have kept a copy of such disk to offer to him and other members of the public at a lower cost. 


17.  It is found that the complainant asked for a current copy of the centralized list and that the respondents reasonably determined that in order to comply with the complainant’s request, a new batch had to be run.


18.  It is found that pursuant to §1-212(b)(4), G.S., the respondents may charge the complainant the full amount of $1,702.29.


19.  It is found, however, that the respondents only charge each requester $300.00 for a copy of the centralized list on compact disk.


20.  It is found that the lowered charge is an attempt to make the list accessible and still allow the respondents to recover some of the cost to provide the list on compact disk.


21.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the cost provisions of §1-212(b), G.S., nor did the respondents violate the disclosure provisions of §1-210(a), G.S.


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


1.      The complaint is hereby dismissed.


Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 28, 2001.



Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission





Christopher C. Noble

Noble & Associates, LLC

11 Pine Street

Plainville, CT 06062


Director, Elections Division

State of Connecticut, Office of

the Secretary of the State; and

State of Connecticut, Office of the

Secretary of the State

c/o Michael T. Kozik, Esq.

Office of the Secretary of the State

30 Trinity Street

Hartford, CT 06106





Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission