Public Records Policy
Alabama Code Section 36-12-40 makes public records available to Alabama citizens, subject to exceptions specified by law. These exceptions generally prevent the disclosure of privileged or otherwise protected information and communications, including that which could potentially compromise the security of state facilities, systems, or software.
The Alabama Secretary of State's Office seeks to serve the citizens of Alabama by complying with Section 36-12-40 to the fullest extent possible. Please note, many records maintained by the Secretary of State are available online through the official website: www.sos.alabama.gov. These records may be accessed, inspected, and obtained electronically by any member of the public at any time at no cost.
Public inspection of voter registration information under the National Voter Registration Act is governed by a separate policy.
Also, production of Alabama's statewide voter list is available for purchase online pursuant to Alabama Code Section 17-4-38 here.
Otherwise, Alabama citizens may request to inspect and take a copy of public records maintained by the office, unless the record is exempt from public disclosure, by submitting a completed Public Records Request Form.
What to expect if you make a public records request:
The Secretary of State's Office strives to respond as promptly as possible to all public records requests from Alabama citizens while ensuring the office's functions and responsibilities under state law are accomplished efficiently.
Please note, the type and volume of records requested will determine the availability, cost, and time required to process a public records request. Requests that can be completed by producing responsive records kept in the normal course of business will be available more quickly. Requests made that clearly identify a specific, discrete document or record will be processed more quickly than requests requiring substantial staff time to search, locate, review, and produce a large volume of potentially responsive documents or records. Requests that require staff to take measures to redact or otherwise withhold legally privileged, protected, or confidential information will likely take substantial time to process.
Upon receiving a completed Public Records Request Form, the office will acknowledge receipt in writing and note any immediate deficiencies or issues with the request. The requesting citizen will also be provided a reference number for internal tracking purposes.
Alabama law permits the collection of reasonable fees for processing public records requests. The Secretary of State charges a fee of $1.00 per page to produce copies of public records for citizens using State of Alabama employees, equipment, and other resources. Citizens are additionally responsible for any outside costs incurred by the Secretary of State's Office for providing copies of requested records. Additional fees apply for copies of certified records. The office's fee schedule is available for reference here.
As soon as requested public records are located and assessed by the office, a cost estimate will be provided to the requesting citizen, as applicable. Upon receipt of payment, the office will promptly provide responsive records. Requesting citizens may request hard copies produced on paper or electronic copies.
Citizens may choose to inspect and/or make copies of requested public records, themselves, under Alabama law, using their own equipment. Access to requested public records for this purpose will be provided during normal business hours and must be supervised by a state employee of the office. Reasonable limitations will be set to avoid work disruption, preserve record integrity, and prevent the loss, damage, or destruction of official records. For examples, and unless otherwise agreed, only two (2) citizens may access public records at the same time, visits will be limited in time to a maximum of four (4) hours, and consumption of food/drink by inspecting visitors must be confined to appropriate office areas. Requesting citizens must arrange at least two (2) business days in advance to visit the office for inspection and/or copying purposes to ensure access to requested records and the availability of required staff.
Please contact email@example.com with questions.
Submitting a public record request:
Citizens wishing to obtain copies of public records must complete the Public Records Request Form.
NOTICE TO NEWS MEDIA - News Media representatives, including those with a deadline, should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (334) 353-2171 for assistance. Accommodation of a deadline schedule will be attempted to the extent that current workload will permit. Fees and requirements for public records related to a media inquiry are not waived.