Re: FOIA tutorial for Kathy

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Thu Nov 11 2004 - 09:55:08 CST

On Nov 10, 2004, at 10:39 PM, Jim March wrote:

> Kathy Dopp wrote:
>
>> Can anyone please tell me if FOIA requests can be made to obtain
>> ballot
>> recounts of just selected counties' election results or if FOIA
>> requests
>> have to be made to count the entire state's election results?

You will get different data from counties than you get from states.
FOIA requests can only get from a given entity something that entity
has in hand.

Miami-Dade will, for example, sell you a CD-ROM containing everything
about an election (audit data and vote data, in raw undigested form,
about 7000 files, 2 megabytes each, representing the raw data from
each of their iVotronics). They say that a few social scientists
have discovered them and are buying these disks for research on a
routine basis.

 From other counties, you get other things. It depends on what they
extract from their voting systems and what format they save it in.

So, a FOIA request might get you a 6-foot stack of printouts from
one county, a CD-ROM from another county, and who knows what from yet
another county. They have the obligation to disclose, but not the
obligation to expend any effort to convert the data to the form you
want. Some counties will deliberately find a way to spite you by
giving you the information in a form you don't want -- on paper,
for example, because you have to pay by the page.

                Doug Jones
                jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Tue Nov 30 23:17:27 2004

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