Re: What should be in a good open records law?

From: Stephanie Frank Singer <sfsinger_at_campaignscientific_dot_com>
Date: Tue Aug 07 2007 - 10:36:00 CDT

Thank you. --Stephanie Singer
On Aug 6, 2007, at 6:08 PM, Doug Kellner wrote:

> In addition to New York’s comprehensive Freedom of Information Law
> (New York Public Officers Law §§ 84-90, the Election Law contains a
> fairly detailed list of required public records.
>
> NEW YORK ELECTION LAW
> § 3-220. Records and photostats; preservation and sale. 1.
> All
> registration records, certificates, lists, and inventories
> referred to
> in, or required by, this chapter shall be public records and
> open to
> public inspection under the immediate supervision of the
> board of
> elections or its employees and subject to such reasonable
> regulations as
> such board may impose, provided, however, that a voter's
> driver's
> license number, department of motor vehicle non-driver photo ID
> number
> and social security number shall not be released for public
> inspection.
> No such records shall be handled at any time by any person other
> than a
> member of a registration board or board of inspectors of
> elections or
> board of elections except as provided by rules imposed by the
> board of
> elections.
> 2. The central file registration records shall be kept in
> locked
> filing cabinets in the office of the board of elections or,
> in the
> appropriate branch offices of the board of elections. Such
> records shall
> be taken from such file and handled only where necessary to make
> entries
> thereon or take other action in connection therewith as required
> by this
> article. The board of elections may cause to be made,
> photostatic copy
> or copies of the registration poll records of registered voters
> in any
> election district and shall cause such photostatic copies to be
> placed
> in one or more ledgers in the same manner and in the same order
> as the
> original registration poll records appear in the ledger or
> ledgers
> containing the registration poll records for such election
> district.
> Such photostatic records shall be open to public inspection, in
> lieu of
> the original registration records.
> 3. Registration records which have been mutilated or voided or
> which,
> following the refusal of a board taking registrations to
> permit an
> applicant to register, have been marked "Refused" shall be
> retained by
> the board of elections for at least two years. Upon destruction
> of any
> such records the board shall keep a file of the serial numbers
> of the
> records so destroyed. Reports of deaths shall be retained by
> the board
> of elections for two years. In January of each year, the
> board of
> elections may remove from its files and may destroy the check
> cards of
> persons whose registrations were cancelled more than
> two years
> previously.
> 4. Subsequent to the expiration of ten years after the receipt
> thereof
> or, in the case of registration records, subsequent to the
> expiration of
> two years after cancellation of the registration to which they
> relate,
> the board of elections, in lieu of preserving any of the
> records as
> hereinbefore provided, may preserve photostatic,
> microphotographic or
> photographic film copies thereof, and may destroy the original
> records
> and is authorized to do so in accordance with the provisions of
> article
> thirteen of the state finance law. If the board of elections
> maintains a
> computer readable registration record for each registered
> voter, which
> includes a copy of the entire registration poll record or
> application
> for registration of each such voter, the original poll
> record or
> application for registration may, with the permission of the
> state board
> of elections, be so destroyed subsequent to the expiration of
> two years
> after such copy is entered in the computer readable record.
> If such
> copies in the computer readable record do not include the backs
> of those
> registration poll records which have been used at one or more
> elections,
> then all such poll records which have been used at one or more
> elections
> may, with the permission of the state board of
> elections, be so
> destroyed subsequent to the expiration of two years after such
> copy is
> entered in the computer readable record, or subsequent to the
> expiration
> of four years after the last election at which such poll
> record was
> used, whichever is later.
> 5. Any such photostatic, microphotographic or photographic film
> copy
> made pursuant to this section or any such computer readable
> record shall
> be deemed to be an original record for all purposes
> and, when
> satisfactorily identified, may be introduced in evidence in any
> judicial
> or administrative proceeding. An enlargement, facsimile or
> certified
> copy thereof shall, for all purposes, be deemed to be an
> enlargement,
> facsimile or certified copy of the original record and may
> likewise be
> introduced in evidence if the film copy or the computer readable
> record
> is in existence and available for inspection under direction
> of the
> court or administrative agency. The introduction in evidence of
> a film
> copy or a copy of a computer readable record, or an
> enlargement,
> facsimile or certified copy thereof, shall not preclude
> introduction of
> the original record.
> 6. All petitions, certificates, objections or papers
> filed or
> deposited with a board or officer before an election or
> primary and
> relating to designations or nominations, and all registers,
> books,
> statements, returns or papers so filed or deposited after
> registration,
> enrollment, election or primary at which they were used or to
> which they
> relate, not including, however, the voted, unused, protested,
> void or
> wholly blank ballots, shall be preserved by such board or officer
> for at
> least two years after the receipt thereof and until the
> determination of
> any action or proceeding touching the same or in which they are
> ordered
> to be preserved pending the action or proceeding and at the
> expiration
> of such time they may be either destroyed or sold. Lists of
> registered
> voters with computer generated facsimile signatures used in
> lieu of
> registration poll records at any election shall be preserved
> until the
> end of the fourth calendar year after the year of such election.
> In all
> jurisdictions, the original statements of results made by
> the state
> board of canvassers or a county or city board of canvassers
> and any
> original record specifying the name of a person declared to
> have been
> elected to a public office shall not be destroyed or sold but
> shall be
> preserved, as part of the records of such board or
> officer, until
> otherwise provided by law.
> 6-a. During the period prescribed by subdivision six of this
> section,
> no petition shall be removed from the office of the board of
> elections
> for copying or any other purpose except while in the custody,
> or under
> the supervision of a member or employee of such board or
> pursuant to
> court order.
> 7. Upon the sale of any property authorized by this
> section to be
> destroyed or sold, the proceeds shall be paid over as follows:
> If sold
> by the board of elections, the proceeds shall be paid into the
> county
> treasury, or, in the city of New York, into the city treasury.
> If sold
> by the clerk of a city, town or village, the proceeds shall be
> paid to
> its fiscal officer for its benefit. Proceeds of the sale of
> any such
> property in the office of the state board of elections shall
> be paid
> over as provided by law with respect to other state moneys in
> the hands
> of a state officer.
>
> § 3-222. Preservation of ballots and records of voting machines. * 1.
> Except as hereinafter provided, voting machines shall remain
> locked
> against voting for a period of twenty-three days or until
> fifteen days
> before the next election, if such machines are needed for use
> at such
> next election. Provided, however, that a machine may be
> unlocked if a
> discrepancy discovered in the recanvass of voting machines
> required by
> this chapter makes it necessary to examine the machine to
> determine if
> it has malfunctioned and provided further that a machine may be
> opened
> and all the data and figures therein examined upon the order
> of any
> court or judge of competent jurisdiction or may be opened by
> direction
> of a committee of the senate or assembly to investigate and
> report upon
> contested elections of members of the legislature voted for by
> the use
> of such machine and such data and such figures examined
> by such
> committee in the presence of the officer having the custody
> of such
> machine.
> * NB Effective until December 31, 2007
> * 1. Except as hereinafter provided, voting machines shall
> remain
> locked against voting for a period of thirty days or until
> fifteen days
> before the next election, if such machines are needed for use
> at such
> next election. Provided however that a machine may be
> unlocked if a
> discrepancy discovered in the recanvass of voting machines
> required by
> this chapter makes it necessary to examine the machine to
> determine if
> it has malfunctioned and provided further that a machine may be
> opened
> and all the data and figures therein examined upon the order
> of any
> court or judge of competent jurisdiction or may be opened by
> direction
> of a committee of the senate or assembly to investigate and
> report upon
> contested elections of members of the legislature voted for by
> the use
> of such machine and such data and such figures examined
> by such
> committee in the presence of the officer having the custody
> of such
> machine.
> * NB Effective December 31, 2007
> 2. Write-in ballots shall be preserved for two years
> after such
> election and the packages thereof may be opened and the
> contents
> examined only upon order of a court or judge of competent
> jurisdiction,
> or by direction of such committee of the senate and assembly
> if the
> ballots relate to the election under investigation by such
> committee,
> and at the expiration of such time, such ballots may be
> disposed of at
> the discretion of the officer or board having charge of them.
> 3. Except as hereinafter provided, packages of protested,
> void and
> wholly blank ballots, packages of unused ballots and all
> absentee and
> military, special federal, special presidential and emergency
> ballots
> and ballot envelopes, if any, opened or unopened, shall be
> preserved for
> two years after the election. Except as hereinafter
> provided, boxes
> containing voted paper ballots shall be preserved inviolate
> for four
> months after the election, or until one month before the next
> election
> occurring within five months after a preceding election if
> such boxes
> are needed for use at such next election and if the officer or
> board in
> charge of such voted paper ballots is required by law to furnish
> ballot
> boxes therefor. Provided, however, that such ballot boxes
> and such
> packages may be opened, and their contents and the
> absentee and
> military, special federal, special presidential and emergency
> ballots
> and ballot envelopes may be examined, upon the order of any
> court or
> justice of competent jurisdiction. Boxes and envelopes
> containing
> absentee, military and emergency ballots voted at a general or
> special
> election, for the office of member of the senate or assembly,
> packages
> of void, protested and wholly blank ballots, unopened
> absentee and
> military ballot envelopes and the packages of unused
> ballots, in
> connection with such election, also may be opened, and their
> contents
> and such envelopes also may be examined, by direction of a
> committee of
> the senate or assembly to investigate and report on contested
> elections
> of members of the legislature. Unless otherwise ordered or
> directed by
> such a court, justice or committee, such boxes shall be opened
> and their
> contents and such packages and the envelopes containing voted
> ballots
> and ballot envelopes shall be destroyed, at the expiration of the
> period
> during which they are required by the provisions of this section
> to be
> preserved, except that instead of being destroyed, they may be
> sold and
> the proceeds paid over in the manner provided with respect to
> the sale
> of books, records and papers pertaining to an election.
> 4. The results of the annual test of each voting machine of
> a type
> approved after September first, nineteen hundred eighty-six,
> which is
> required by this chapter, shall be preserved for two years.
> 5. All records and documents pertaining to ballot label
> programming
> and ballot label programming data for any election for any
> voting
> machine of a type approved after September first, nineteen
> hundred
> eighty-six and all records pertaining to the testing of
> any such
> programming and programming data or the testing of any such
> machine in
> connection with any such election shall be preserved for two
> years after
> such election.
>
> From: Arthur Keller <voting@kellers.org>
> Reply-To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list <ovc-
> discuss@listman.sonic.net>
> Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2007 10:25:53 -0700
> To: <dak@khgflaw.com>, Open Voting Consortium discussion list <ovc-
> discuss@listman.sonic.net>
> Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] What should be in a good open records law?
>
> Bev Harris has a good list. Here is a summary of conversations
> I've had with her by email. I apologize to Bev if I am using her
> material inappropriately or incorrectly.
>
> Add consequences like Washington and Colorado.
>
> When getting into specific language, there actually are public
> records laws in
> various states that can be referred to for specimen language.
>
> While none address the timelines factor, and none address the
> usability (data
> compilation so it isn't parsed into a million fragments, like some
> vendors are
> doing), several of the other issues are addressed here and there.
> Specifically:
>
> Look to language in the West Virginia public records laws for a
> nice preamble
> paragraph putting a frame around citizens right to know
>
> Look to language in the Arkansas public records laws for a
> fascinating section
> that opens up private companies to freedom of information if they
> receive
> public funding (but that should be defined to say if they receive a
> significant
> portion of their funding from public funds, with a stipulation that
> this can
> apply to a division, if the company is large but has one division
> doing the
> voting stuff.
>
> Look to language in North Carolina and Ohio public records laws for
> language
> that makes it affordable. The key to this is (1) not to allow labor
> charges and
> (2) actual costs of materials only (in other words, you can't build
> labor costs
> or surcharges into copy costs.
>
> Look to language in Wisconsin for very good right of access, or
> right to
> observe, for all citizens -- that's in their elections code, not
> their public
> records code.
>
> Also, to make records affordable, Arkansas and several other states
> make it
> possible to demand electronic form. Arkansas language: A citizen
> may request a
> copy of a public record in any medium in which the record is
> readily available
> or in any format to which it is readily convertible with the
> custodian's
> existing software
>
> Specifically for elections, I wrote the following:
>
> (g) Citizens of California shall have access to other elections
> information:
> (1) All information necessary to validate elections must be
> produced
> by the voting system and its accompanying elections procedures;
> (2) When information to validate the election is requested,
> it must be
> provided before recount and contest periods have expired;
> (3) The information must be provided in a usable and cost-
> effective
> manner;
> (4) There will be no restrictions imposed by proprietary
> claims, nor
> shall access to information be exclusively placed outside of
> governmental
> custody.
> (5) Validating information must include proof that hardware and
> software certified for use is the same claimed to have been used.
> Best regards,
> Arthur
>
>
> At 9:33 AM -0700 8/5/07, Richard C. Johnson wrote:
>> Improvement would depend on what features of law now keep the
>> public from seeing the GEMS records of elections. Otherwise, a
>> general change may not disturb the bureaucrat who now keeps the
>> public at bay.
>>
>> -- Dick Johnson
>>
>> Stephanie Frank Singer <sfsinger@campaignscientific.com> wrote:
>>> Friends,
>>>
>>> Here in PA the legislature is in the process of improving our
>>> open records law. This law will not address elections in
>>> particular, but its general language about open records will
>>> affect our ability to get information about the conduct of
>>> elections, particularly elections conducted on paperless DRE's.
>>>
>>> Can anyone suggest language that would ensure (without
>>> specifically mentioning elections) that we can get Diebold GEMS
>>> records and other useful computer-generated traces of election
>>> conduct?
>>>
>>> Thanks!
>>> Stephanie Singer
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Stephanie Frank Singer, Ph.D.
>>> Campaign Scientific
>>> 215-715-3479
>>> http://www.campaignscientific.com
>
> --
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
> Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4507
> tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
>
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Received on Fri Aug 31 23:17:04 2007

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