to S.C. Reporter 11/7/17
Y. Staff Sarah Pierce Assistant Attorneys General
Constitutional Offices Section.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Jeffery W. Clark Special Master.
On March 1, 2017, requester John Speros sent a public records
request to respondent Ohio Secretary of State
("SOS") that stated:
a. "For a personal (non-business) research topic, I
request voting results in machine-readable format (e.g.,
Access or single table Excel) for all congressional races
b. Those data include: Year; District, Candidate Name,
Candidate Political Party Affiliation; Number of Votes
c. If you have available a larger set of data along these
lines, I'd be pleased to receive that collection and
extract what I need.
d. If you have additional questions or recommendations,
please let me know that, too."
(Complaint, Attachments p. 3.) On March 3, 2017, SOS
Legislative Liaison Emily Groseclose responded:
e. "Elections results can be found on our website at
f. If you have any questions or need further assistance,
please don't hesitate to contact me."
(Id., p. 2.) At the time of this response, the SOS
website contained statewide, district, and county results for
2002, and statewide, district, county, and precinct level
results for 2004, 2010, 2014, and 2016. It did not contain
general election results data for 2008 or 2012 (Bowling Aff.,
¶ 11; Pietenpol July 20, 2017 Aff., ¶ 7-8.) Speros
g. "As I recorded in your voice-mail moments ago, while
I appreciate your providing a link the Secretary of State
election results web page(s), those data do not portray the
information that I seek because those data are not portrayed
in a readily useable format which enable year-over-year and
h. More specifically, those data are inadequate for various
reasons, including these:
. Each election year's data are
portrayed in separate files
. Many of those files are rendered in a
(HTML) format which cannot be directly imported into a
. Each of the files employ widely varying
formats-below my signature block please find two examples
that indicate how radically different the data are
portrayed-that impose very high costs to extract and import
(and then error check).
i. That is why I am requesting Congressional general
election results for the years 2002 to 2016 in a single,
comprehensive file the format for which can be easily
imported into a flat file database. Technicians will
recognize that this format includes a (Excel) spreadsheet, an
(Access) database or even a delimited text file.
j. As I mentioned, if you have available a larger set of data
along these lines, I'd be pleased to receive that
collection and extract what I need. If you have additional
questions or recommendations, please let me know that,
(Emphasis added.) (Complaint, Attachments p. 1.) On March 10,
2017, Elections Counsel David W. Bowling of the SOS contacted
Speros by telephone,
k. "to discuss his concerns regarding the response to
his public records request. Mr. Speros stated that he felt
someone with an IT background would further understand his
request and possess the capability to produce a responsive
record. He indicated that he would be following up with a
revised public records request to the Secretary of
(Bowling Aff., ¶ 7.) Speros denies that the call
concluded with his promise to revise the request, but instead
relates his understanding,
l. "that Mr. Bowling intended to speak with the SOS'
computer technologists to learn more about the SOS' data
management systems and those systems' ability to ...