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Best Practices: Public Records Request

Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Since the 2020 election cycle, election officials have reported an increase in public records requests, requiring time and resources added to their official duties of administering elections.  To help election officials navigate the high volume of these requests, the EAC has developed Best Practices: Public Records Requests.  This document highlights innovative methods election offices have used to efficiently respond to these requests. Some of these best practices include: 

Developing a Public Records Policy: Clear policies can help requestors better understand what information is available and help staff respond consistently to each request. 

Set up a Public Records Reading Room: Election officials may consider creating a virtual Public Records Reading Room for frequently requested documents, as well as administrative policies and procedures regarding public records requests. A Public Records Reading Room provides convenient, on-demand public access to documents and information subject to open records laws. When records are proactively disclosed, it can result in efficiencies for jurisdictions when providing records that otherwise might be sought through public records requests.   

Please note that the information provided is not intended to constitute legal advice. Each state has its own unique sets of laws and regulations that govern which records are subject to disclosure, the method to request information, and the rules that government agencies must follow once a request for information is received in that state.  Election officials should contact their state or local legal representatives with questions about the legality of specific requests or procedures in their jurisdiction.      

In addition, this document provides information about the Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) Program, which was created by Congress under the Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002.   


Please access the links below for additional information: 

National Association of Counties  

Open Records Laws: A State by State Report   


Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press  

Election Records   


U.S. Department of Justice  

FOIA Self-Assessment Toolkit   


Proactive Disclosure of Non-Exempt Agency Information:  

Making Information Available Without the Need to File a FOIA Request   


OIP Guidance: Agency FOIA Websites 2.0