State Public Records
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
A public record is a blanket term used to describe any publicly available information kept on file by a local, state or federal government. Recent laws such as the well-known U.S. Freedom of Information Act have put more of the records held by the U.S. Government into more-accessible forums such as the National Archives where private citizens can access these records and use them for a variety of purposes.
Most records made public are kept to track changes in the population, such as births, deaths, marriages and domestic partnerships. U.S. Census data and other pieces of interesting data are typically available on a county-by-county basis or at the state level. The type of record for which you are searching typically determines where you should begin your search.
Obtaining copies of these records is simple, and although there is often a small fee involved and processing can sometimes be lengthy. Some areas limit the availability to the person named on the record, but some areas allow anyone to access any public record.
The Freedom of Information Act (sometimes abbreviated as FOIA) covers the implementation of freedom of information legislation and allows for the full or partial disclosure of documents controlled by the government. It became law in 1966, going into effect in 1967. It has been amended a few times.
The FOIA was created as American citizens started to protest their rights more, and it was designed to help manage requests for government records. There are some exceptions, mostly dealing with sensitivity and personal rights. This includes those records that would compromise national security, trade secrets of companies, records that would be considered an invasion of privacy if accessed, and more.
A few amendments have been made to the FOIA. These include:
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has a Public Records Office that allows interested parties to find public records information. The documents are available for public inspection and copying. Computer indexes are used to locate available public records information.
You can access information by going to the Public Records Office in Washington, DC. Visitors are not required to identify themselves. You can also access records online and by fax. There is a charge of $0.05 per page for copies, though many computer printouts and other publications are available for free. You can pay for you copies by check, money order, or credit card after all of the copies have been made. If you order by mail, then you will have to pay up front. If you need multiple records, you can create an account by depositing $25 for use towards copies. Alternatively, you may also be able to get campaign finance reports from your state records office.
A variety of information is available to you. You can research information about the candidates, committees, and their receipts and registrations. You can find documents filed by a specific candidate or committee, including FEC enforcement actions and litigation, financial figures, advisory opinions, and more. You can also find summary financial figures on PACs, party committees, and others, as well as individual contributors of $200 or more. Other financial reports are also available.