Any person of the public can request to inspect or obtain a copy of a public record. “Person” includes any natural person, corporation, partnership, limited liability company, firm, or association. (Government Code section 7920.520.) Any state or local agencies and their officials are entitled to request public records on the same basis as any other person.
Requests for public records must reasonably describe the identifiable record or records. If your request is not clear, the Secretary of State will assist you to make a focused and effective request that reasonably describes an identifiable record or records.
The Secretary of State is not required to compile data, gather information, perform research, or otherwise create a record that does not exist or that is not maintained in the normal course of business.
Public records represent “any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.” (Government Code section 7920.545.). You can request records such as correspondence, emails, documents, photos, reports, videos, and other records.
Yes. Records may be withheld from disclosure as authorized by law under the California Public Records Act. If a record consists of information that is exempt from disclosure by law, any reasonably segregable portion of a record will be provided to you after the exempt information is removed.
The Secretary of State will determine within ten (10) days whether the requested records are in the possession of the Secretary of State’s Office and if the records can be disclosed. The Secretary of State will notify you in writing of the determination. In case of unusual circumstances, such as a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records must be examined, the Secretary of State may extend the time in which you are notified of the determination by fourteen (14) additional days. Notice of the extension will be in writing stating the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected. If the request is denied, the written response will state the reasons for the denial.
The Secretary of State will send you the records electronically or by mail per your request. Depending on the location of the requested records, the public records can also be picked up or viewed in person at the following locations:
- Secretary of State Office at 1500 11th Street, Sacramento;
- California State Archives at 1020 O Street, 4th Floor, Sacramento, or;
- Los Angeles Office at 300 South Spring Street, Room 12513, Los Angeles.
Public records in the custody of the Secretary of State will be available during normal business hours. Special arrangements will be made in advance for the inspection of voluminous records. Persons inspecting public records must not destroy, mutilate, deface, or alter any such record or records or remove any such record or records from the location designated for inspection. The records must be physically returned in the same condition and order as received, upon either the completion of the inspection or upon verbal request of Agency personnel presiding during the inspection.
California law, including the Public Records Act, permits the Secretary of State to charge a fee for providing copies of its records. However, in many circumstances, electronic copies of records can be provided at no cost. The Secretary of State will determine whether any fees must be collected prior to providing responsive records.
Depending on the circumstances, the following fees may apply:
- The fee for preparing a copy of any law, resolution, record, or other document on file in the Secretary of State’s Office is one dollar ($1.00) for the first page and fifty cents ($0.50) for each page thereafter. (Government Code section 12178.1(a)).
- The fee for preparing copies of campaign statements, contribution and expenditure reports, or statements of disclosure of financial interest is ten cents ($0.10) per page. (Government Code section 81008(a)).
- Any request requiring electronic compilations, indexes, extracts, or summaries of information, including computer information, contained in the public records of the Secretary of State shall be provided at a charge sufficient to recover all costs associated with the request. (Government Code section 7922.530(b)).
- Fees for copying, reproduction, and other services provided by the California State Archives shall be consistent with the costs of providing such services. (Government Code section 12174(e)).
If you have any questions, contact the Secretary of State via email at PRAPublicRequest@sos.ca.gov.