Freedom of Information in Vermont
Freedom of Information is a fundamental human right — the touchstone of all other freedoms, according to the United Nations.
Yet this right, and Vermont’s constitutional and statutory laws, are violated at both state and local levels through delays, over-redactions, unjustified withholding of documents, improper charges to inspect records and secret meetings.
Many public officials fulfill public records requests and hold open meetings according to the letter and spirit of Vermont law. They prove it can be done without paralyzing operational efficiency.
“That all power being originally inherent in and consequently derived from the people, therefore, all officers of government, whether legislative or executive, are their trustees and servants; and at all times, in a legal way, accountable to them.”
—Vermont Constitution, Chapter I, Article 6, established July 9, 1793
“Officers of government are trustees and servants of the people and it is in the public interest to enable any person to review and criticize their decisions even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment.”
—Vermont statutory law, 1 V.S.A. § 315
If you can’t access public records and government officials, you can’t call your society a democracy.
To learn more, check out:
- Guides to Vermont’s public records act and open meetings law, by Secretary of State Jim Condos.
- New England First Amendment Coalition
- ACLU Vermont
Have you ever requested public records from a state or local agency in Vermont? Please visit this online survey to report how it went: www.bit.ly/PublicVT (Note: The URL is case-sensitive.) This survey is a project of Niles Media, The Society of Professional Journalists’ Freedom of Information Committee and the ACLU of Vermont.