Public records access is ‘stacked against the citizen’ 

Jakob Thorington 

Arizona Capitol Times 

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(Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of stories the Arizona Capitol Times has published on the state of Arizona’s public records laws.)

Arizona public records law allows individuals to submit a public records request through any means, but public records experts point out that many agencies often require additional steps that can slow a request being fulfilled.

The Arizona Ombudsman specifically clarifies that the state’s public records law doesn’t require requesters to fill out specific forms or make written requests. While an agency or public records custodian may ask for a requester to submit their request in a specific format such as through an online portal, a simple verbal request is enough to fulfill the public records law.

“There’s nothing in the law that justifies that, but these agencies are creating their own rules at willy nilly or at ad hoc that have nothing to do with what the law requires,” said American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona Legal Director Jared Keenan.

Arizona Capitol Times staff submitted 55 identical public records requests to various government agencies across the state to measure how agencies responded. Each request asked the agency to turn over the public records requests they received during a specific week of the summer.


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November 2023