December 11, 1995
Mr. John Barbarite
19 Cottage Street
P.O. Box 6
Monticello, NY 12701-0006
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. Barbarite:
I have received your letter of November 16 and the materials relating to it. You have sought an advisory opinion "as to whether a photocopy of the page that a voter signs at the polls before casting his/her ballot is required to be provided under a FOIL request." In denying your request, the Orange County Commissioners of Elections cited §5-506(8) of the Election Law, which states in part that "No computer tape, computer disc, or other record which can be used to reproduce...facsimile signatures shall be sold or otherwise distributed..."
In this regard, I agree with your suggestion that the cited provision of the Election Law has been inappropriately asserted or interpreted. That provision, as I understand it, pertains to the reproduction, particularly electronic, of a facsimile signature. You did not seek the reproduction of a factual signature, but rather an actual signature. Consequently, I do not believe that §5-506(8) would be pertinent.
Most relevant in my view is §3-220 of the Elections 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.
In short, the record of your interest is in my opinion available for inspection and copying under both the Election Law and the Freedom of Information Law. The latter generally requires that an agency prepare photocopies of records for a fee not in excess of twenty-five cents per photocopy.
I hope that I have been of some assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Shirley A. Jansen, Commissioner
Susan Bohren, Commissioner