Public Records Request

Definition of a public records request

Under the Washington State Public Records Act (RCW 42.56), the public may request records produced by state agencies. This same law requires requestors to ask for an “identifiable” record that exists at the time the request is submitted.  A request for information, or a general question, is not a request for an identifiable record.  See examples below.

Request for information or a general question

Request for an identifiable public record

What’s your policy for handling discrimination complaints?

Provide a copy of your discrimination complaint policy.

How many people are registered to vote in my county?

Provide a copy of current voter registration in my county.

Does ABC Inc. still exist?

Provide a copy of ABC Inc’s most recent annual report


To assist the Public Records Office to provide the fastest possible service, please be sure your request includes an identifiable record before submitting.

Also, agencies are not required to create new records, such as lists, reports, summaries, spreadsheets, or data files, to satisfy a request.    

Finally, some identifiable public records may be fully exempt from disclosure or partially redacted, in accordance with state law.

Finding general information

We understand you may want information or data that does not qualify as an identifiable public record.  In those cases, we encourage you to visit the following websites first. 

  • Elections – search for voter registration, ballots delivered and returned, candidates, initiatives and referenda, election results (county and statewide, county elections offices, and elections-related data and research.
  • Corporations and Charities – search for a business, corporation, charity, or non-profit agency.
  • Archives – search for birth, death, and divorce records, census records, maps, military records, minutes and meetings records, land records, Oaths of Office, and naturalization records.

Submitting a records request

Please use the Online Public Records Request Portal.  This portal is the most effective way of communicating with the Public Records Office.  Questions can be easily tracked and answered, updates provided, and documents released through this one, convenient site.


The Office of the Secretary of State reserves the right to charge for records in accordance with WAC 434-12A-100.

Other request methods

You may also make a public records request by email, phone, post, or fax.  To expedite our response, please be specific about the records you are requesting.  We will also need information on how to contact you if we have questions and where to send the records.

  • Requestor’s name, complete mailing address, phone, and fax number.
  • Date the request is submitted.
  • Complete description of the identifiable records requested (title, subject, date, policy, etc.)
  • Date range of the requested records (e.g., January 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023).
  • Preferred means for providing the records (e.g., electronically, onsite inspection, etc.)

In managing public records requests, the Office of the Secretary of State follows the model rules published in WAC 44-14.

Public Records Office
PO Box 40224
Olympia, WA 98504-0224
Phone: (360) 704-5220
Fax: (360) 704-7834
Email: [email protected]