OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Ken Mosher and Libertarian
|Docket #FIC 2001-030|
Election Services Manager,
|October 24, 2001|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 31, 2001, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. For purposes of hearing, this case was consolidated with Docket #FIC2001-053; Ken Mosher and Libertarian Party of Connecticut v. Maria M. Greenslade, Deputy Secretary of State, State of Connecticut, Office of the Secretary of the State.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The Commission takes administrative notice of the record and final decision in Docket #FIC 2000-531; Christopher C. Noble v. Director, Elections Division, State of Connecticut, Office of the Secretary of the State; and State of Connecticut, Office of the Secretary of the State.
2. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
3. It is found that, by e-mail dated December 21, 2000 to the respondents, the complainants requested a CD-ROM of the record of statewide voters registered as Green Party and Reform Party members or, if such record was not available in CD-ROM form, a CD-ROM of all statewide registered voters, contending that such record should be available to them at a cost of $45.87, or less.
4. It is found that, by e-mail dated December 21, 2000, the respondents informed the complainants that they did not have the ability to provide the complainants with a CD-ROM of records indicating only the statewide voters registered as Green Party and Reform Party members; however, the respondents offered to provide the complainants with a CD-ROM of all statewide registered voters, at a cost of $300.00.
5. By letter dated January 8, 2001, and filed on January 17, 2001, the complainants appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated §§1-211(a) and 1-212(b)(4), G.S., by charging more than the amount allowed by statute for a copy of records stored within a computer.
6. 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….”
7. 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.”
8. It is concluded that the requested records, to the extent that the respondents maintain them, are public records within the meaning of §§1-210(a), and 1-211(a), G.S.
9. Section 1-212, G.S., provides in relevant part that:
“(a) [a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record . . . .(b) The 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 only: (1) An amount equal to the hourly salary attributed to all agency employees engaged in providing the requested computer-stored public record, including their time performing the formatting or programming functions necessary to provide the copy as requested, but not including search or retrieval costs except as provided in subdivision (4) of this subsection; (2) An amount equal to the cost to the agency of engaging an outside professional electronic copying service to provide such copying services, if such service is necessary to provide the copying as requested; (3) The actual cost of the storage devices or media provided to the person making the request in complying with such request; and (4) The 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. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the fee for any copy of the names of registered voters shall not exceed three cents per name delivered or the cost thereof to the public agency, as determined pursuant to this subsection, whichever is less. The Department of Information Technology shall monitor the calculation of the fees charged for copies of computer-stored public records to ensure that such fees are reasonable and consistent among agencies.”
It is found that, pursuant to a program of the respondents, the
registrars of voters in all but 27 cities and towns in Connecticut have
voluntarily agreed 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 [hereinafter “the list”].
It is found that at any time, any of the participating registrars can
update its existing voter registration information or add new voter
registration information. Consequently,
the list is modified at the same time any changes are made by any registrar.
It is found that the list contains the names, addresses, party
affiliations, and electoral districts of approximately 1.8 million statewide
registered voters, except the registered voters in 27 municipalities who are
not participants in the program described in paragraph 10, above.
It is further found that the list is stored on a mainframe housed and
maintained by the State Department of Information Technology [hereinafter “DOIT”],
pursuant to a contractual vendor/vendee relationship that exists between the
respondents and DOIT. It is also
found that, pursuant to said relationship, DOIT provides certain computer
services to the respondents and bills the respondents for such services.
14. It is found that the process for producing a copy of the voter registration list on CD-ROM from the mainframe is as follows:
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;
submits a request to DOIT to run the batch program;
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 CD-ROM, which is provided to the
It is found that after all the information has been transferred onto a
CD-ROM, 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
It is found that the cost to the respondents to obtain the most current
copy of the centralized list is $1,700, which is the computer time charged by
DOIT for providing the respondents with computer storage and retrieval
services and that such cost is incurred each time the respondent office
requests a batch to be run.
17. It is found that DOIT cannot produce a CD-ROM containing only those voters registered by political party, using current mainframe applications.
18. At the hearing in this matter, the complainant Mosher testified that he would accept a CD-ROM of the list in its entirety, but contended that the complainants should not be required to pay for information in which they have no interest. Specifically, the complainants contend that, since they are only interested in the list insofar as it contains Green Party and Reform Party members, and since they believe such voters number 1529, the fee of 3 cents per name set forth in §1-212(b)(4), G.S., should control and that the maximum fee assessed for the requested record is properly $45.87.
19. It is found, however, that, pursuant to §1-212(b)(4), G.S., the respondents may charge the complainants the full amount of $1,700.00, which is the lesser cost of providing the names of registered voters to the complainants. Moreover, it is further found that the respondents merely charged the complainants $300.00 for a copy of the list on CD-ROM, in an attempt to make the list accessible, while allowing the respondents to recover some of the cost of providing a copy of the list.
It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the cost
provisions of §§1-210(a), 1-211(a) and 1-212(b)(4), G.S., in this matter.
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 October 24, 2001.
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
Ken Mosher and Libertarian
Party of Connecticut
110 Walnut Street
Willimantic, CT 06226
Election Services Manager,
State of Connecticut, Office
of the Secretary of the State;
and State of Connecticut,
Office of the Secretary of
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