April 3, 2002
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.
I have received a copy of your letter to commissioners of boards of elections in which you sought monthly updates of voter lists.
In this regard, it has consistently been advised that an agency is not required to honor an ongoing or prospective request for records. As you may be aware, the Freedom of Information Law pertains to existing records [see §89(3)]. Consequently, I do not believe that an agency has the ability or is required to grant or deny access to records that do not yet exist. Additionally, in my view, there is nothing in the Freedom of Information Law that requires that records be transmitted via e-mail. An agency may choose to make records available via that method of transmission, but there is no obligation to do so. An agency's responsibility under §§87(2) and 89(3) involves making records available for inspection and copying, and to make copies of records available upon payment of the appropriate fee.
I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify your understanding of the Freedom of Information Law and that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman