The following are selected findings from a survey of 1,012 adult residents of the United States conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University in a study commissioned by

the National Association of Newspaper Editors for National Sunshine Week.

Here are some questions about whether you feel government in America is open and transparent

or whether you think government is closed and secretive?



• When talking about the local government in your community, do you think local government is very open, somewhat open, somewhat secretive or very secretive?

Very Open ........................................ 16

Somewhat Open .............................. 40

Somewhat Secretive ........................ 26

Very Secretive .................................. 14

Don’t Know/Other .............................. 4



• How about your state government? Is it is very open, somewhat open, somewhat secretive or very secretive?

Very Open ........................................ 10

Somewhat Open .............................. 40

Somewhat Secretive ........................ 30

Very Secretive .................................. 14

Don’t Know/Other .............................. 6



• How about the federal government based in Washington, D.C.?

Very Open .......................................... 4

Somewhat Open ............................... 16

Somewhat Secretive ........................ 30

Very Secretive .................................. 44

Don’t Know/Other .............................. 6



• How likely do you think it is that the federal government has opened mail or monitored telephone conversations of people in the U.S. without first getting permission from a federal judge? Is it very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely or very unlikely that the federal government has done these things without permission from a judge?

Very Likely ....................................... 48

Somewhat Likely ............................. 29

Somewhat Unlikely............................. 7

Very Unlikely............... ...................... 9

Don’t Know/Other .............................. 7



• How likely do you think it is that the federal government has opened your mail or monitored some of your telephone conversations?

Very Likely ....................................... 11

Somewhat Likely ............................. 15

Somewhat Unlikely........................... 17

Very Unlikely .................................... 47

Don’t Know/Other ............................ 10



• How likely is it that the federal government has opened mail or monitored telephone conversations involving members of the news media?

Very Likely ....................................... 38

Somewhat Likely ............................. 26

Somewhat Unlikely............................. 9

Very Unlikely .................................... 12

Don’t Know/Other ............................ 15



• How important to you is a candidate’s position on open government when you decide whom to vote for? So when you are voting for president, is a candidate’s position on open government very important, somewhat important, somewhat unimportant or very unimportant to you?

Very Important ................................. 60

Somewhat Important ....................... 27

Somewhat Unimportant ..................... 6

Very Unimportant ............................... 4

Don’t Know/Other .............................. 3



• How about when voting for a member of Congress. Is open government very important, somewhat important, somewhat unimportant or very unimportant to you?

Very Important ................................. 60

Somewhat Important ....................... 28

Somewhat Unimportant ..................... 4

Very Unimportant ............................... 2

Don’t Know/Other .............................. 6

• How about when voting for a candidate for state office like governor or attorney general?

Very Important .................................. 64

Somewhat Important ....................... 28

Somewhat Unimportant ..................... 4

Very Unimportant ............................... 3

Don’t Know/Other ............................... 1



• How about when voting for your City Council or School Board?

Very Important ................................. 69

Somewhat Important ....................... 22

Somewhat Unimportant ..................... 3

Very Unimportant ............................... 3

Don’t Know/Other ............................... 3



• Government records usually are considered public documents that people may view during normal business hours. Which of the following should be the government’s policy when releasing government documents: First, that people should be required to show identification and give a written reason for seeing the documents? Or second, that people should be required to speak their names and say why they want to see the documents? Or third, that they should speak their names but not be required to give a reason why they want to see the documents? Or fourth, that they should give a reason but not give their names? Or fifth, that they should not be asked either their names or why they want to see the records.

Show ID and give written reason ...... 36

Speak name and explain why ........... 15

Speak name but not reason .............. 12

Give reason but not give name ........... 6

Should not give name or reason ....... 22

Don’t Know/Other ............................... 9



• Lawmakers at the local, state, and federal levels meet with a lot of different people over the course of a day such as lobbyists, voters, other government officials and campaign donors. They usually keep lists of those visitors. Do you think the public should be allowed to see with whom lawmakers meet?

Yes .................................................... 82

No ..................................................... 11

Don’t Know/Other .............................. 7



• Just as with the question about access to public records, if people are allowed to see a lawmaker’s list of visitors, should people have to identify themselves and state reasons why they want to see the lists:

Show ID and give written reason ..... 42

Speak name and explain why ........... 13

Speak name but not reason ............... 9

Give reason but not give name .......... 4

Should not give name or reason ...... 26

Don’t Know/Other ............................... 6



• I’d like to ask some questions about whether governments should release information to the public. For example, should a city police department allow the public to see incident reports about specific crimes in local neighborhoods?

Yes .................................................... 71

No ..................................................... 15

Don’t Know/Other ............................. 14



• Some states allow people to carry concealed handguns if they get a permit. Should state governments allow the public to see who has been given permits to carry concealed handguns?

Yes .................................................... 66

No ..................................................... 25

Don’t Know/Other ............................... 9



Source: National survey of 1,012 adult residents of the United States conducted by Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University from Feb. 10-28.

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