1/21/21 Update – Gwinnett has now let us know that the video is available and we can come pick it up. Thanks to the State Attorney General’s office for their assistance in getting these files! (NOTE: A copy of the AG’s letter sent on my behalf is at the bottom of this post)
12/15/20 Update – It has now been a month since Gwinnett County acknowledged my FOIA requiest to view video of the ballot drop boxes in Gwinnett, and almost 40 days since my original email to them. My request was given the ID R011285-111520 and it still sits in the Public Records bottom drawer.
12/2/20 Update – This morning I received a note from Gwinnett County thanking me for my information request of 11/30/20 and promising an answer by 12/3/20. The problem is they already thanked me for my request of 11/15/20! So is this how they comply with the three-day response requirement?
On 11/6/20 I emailed the following FOIA request to Kristi Royston, Elections Supervisor for Gwinnett County Office of Elections, and CC’d the general mailbox firstname.lastname@example.org asking to view video records of the absentee ‘drop boxes’ in Gwinnett:
Records Requested Under the Georgia Open Records Act 50.18.70 et seq., I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records that pertain to the election of November 3rd. Specifically, I understand that the ballot drop boxes feature 24-hour surveillance, and I am requesting to view or obtain copies of the video that was recorded at each Voter Absentee Dropbox in Gwinnett County during the time that those boxes were receiving ballots.
If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please inform me if the cost will exceed $50. However, I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of precautions taken to ensure a secure election in Gwinnett This information is NOT being sought for commercial purposes.
The Georgia Open Records Act requires a response time within three business days. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer than three days, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records.
If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.
Here is what the County says about when they will respond:
Question: When will a response be received concerning my public records request?
Answer: Gwinnett County shall produce for inspection all records responsive to a request within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed three business days of receipt of a request; provided, however, that nothing in this chapter shall require agencies to produce records in response to a request if such records did not exist at the time of the request. In those instances where some, but not all, records are available within three business days, an agency shall make available within that period those records that can be located and produced. In any instance where records are unavailable within three business days of receipt of the request, and responsive records exist, the agency shall, within such time period, provide the requester with a description of such records and a timeline for when the records will be available for inspection or copying and provide the responsive records or access thereto as soon as practicable.
I received no response, so I resent the email on 11/14 and again on 11/15. I then received the following response from Lynn Ledford, Division Director / Gwinnett County Department of Community Services:
Mr. Hancock, I apologize for the delay in response to your open records request. The video is available and can be placed onto a medium for purchase. I have placed your request for the video and when a cost estimate is provided, you will be notified. If you still wish to purchase the videos we will notify you when its’ [sic] ready for pick up.
I then received the following from Gwinnett County:
“Thank you for your interest in public records of Gwinnett County. Your request has been received and is being processed in accordance with the Georgia Open Records Act. Your request was received in this office on 11/15/2020 and given the reference number R011285-111520 for tracking purposes.”
I didn’t hear anything else for over a week, and when I checked online there was no activity on my request. So, on 11/24, I made a complaint to the GA Attorney General’s office. On 11/25 I received the following two conflicting responses from Gwinnett County (in two separate emails):
The County will need additional time to process the request due to required manual audit and recount of presidential election race. Items will be available approximately December 11, 2020.
In reference to your records request, I require additional time to respond. This is due to the unexpected large number of responsive records and based on the need to gather and determine whether any of the information requested is statutorily exempt from disclosure.
Accordingly, I estimate that by 12/11/2020, I will provide you the responsive records.
Conveniently, both have a projected date of December 11, the Friday right before the Electors vote on December 14th.