August 12, 1997
Mr. Wallace S. Nolen
Eastern Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 338
Naponoch, NY 12458-0338
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.
Dear Mr. Nolen:
I have received your letter of July 9, as well as a
handwritten copy of a determination of an appeal rendered under the
Freedom of Information Law by Richard B. Golden, Orange County
In short, you requested voter registration cards pertaining to
a named individual that might be maintained by the Orange County
Board of Elections. Following an initial response to the effect
that you would be required to supply additional information and
your appeal, Mr. Golden granted your request, to the extent that
the documentation sought exists "and only to the extent" that the
person named "does not have alternative grounds for non-disclosure." Mr. Golden also denied a portion of your appeal in
which you requested that copies of records made available be
certified by the Board of Elections.
In this regard, I offer the following comments.
First, I believe that the records sought are available
pursuant to §3-220 of the Election Law, which pertains to records
maintained by county boards of elections. Subdivision (1) of that
statute states in part that: "All registration records,
certificates, lists and inventories referred to in, or required by,
this chapter [the Election Law] shall be public records..." As
such, registration records maintained by a county board of
elections are clearly accessible to the public.
I know of no provision of law that would provide the subject
of a voter registration record with the right to restrict
disclosure of such record or provide conditions concerning
Second, I believe that an agency is required, on request, to
provide the kind of certification envisioned by §89(3) of the
Freedom of Information Law. That provision states in relevant part
that, in response to a request for a record, "the entity shall
provide a copy of such record and certify to the correctness of
such copy if so requested..." From my perspective, the
certification required by the Freedom of Information Law does not
involve an assertion that the contents of a record are accurate,
but rather that a copy of a record made available in response to a
request is a true copy.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Richard B. Golden