Here’s a video that explains the process with this sample letter.
Below is the sample letter than you can copy and paste into a word processor.
Sample Open Records Request Letter
Dear MX. XXXXX,
This letter is to request the following records, under the state’s Open Records Law (19.31-39, Wisconsin Statutes):
[BE SPECIFIC ABOUT THE RECORDS YOU SEEK, AND INCLUDE A DATE RESTRICTION IF POSSIBLE].
Please be aware that the Open Records law defines “record” to include information that is maintained on paper as well as electronically, such as data files and unprinted emails. Wis. Stat. § 19.32(2).
Please also be aware that the Open Records law “shall be construed in every instance with the presumption of complete public access consistent with the conduct of governmental business. The denial of access generally is contrary to the public interest and only in exceptional cases can access be denied.” If you deny my request, the law requires you to do so in writing and state what part of the law you believe entitles you to deny my request. Wis. Stat. § 19.35(4)(a).
The Open Records law states that you may charge for “the actual, necessary and direct cost” of locating records, if this exceeds $50, and for photocopies. Please advise me before processing this request if the total cost will exceed $[SPECIFY DOLLAR AMOUNT].
As you know, the law requires you to respond to this request “as soon as practicable and without delay.”
If you are not the records custodian for this information, please forward this request to the appropriate person. Also, please let me know if I can clarify or refine this request.
Thank you for your time and consideration.