by Bethany Torstenson
Former Digital Manager and Writer, John Locke Foundation
Last week, Locke released results from their recent Civitas Poll, which surveyed likely North Carolina general election voters on topics including the importance of open records laws.
To see the full results from the latest Civitas Poll, click here.
Let’s break down a couple of key findings:
First and foremost, these results show that North Carolinians want and value transparency.
Over ninety-three percent of likely voters in North Carolina believe that open record laws are essential to maintaining accountability, with an astounding 56.5% believing it’s extremely important.
Surveyed voters were asked a few different questions regarding open records laws, one of them being:
Do you agree or disagree that increased transparency through open records laws would enhance public trust in state legislators?
The response to this question?
82.5% of poll respondents agreed, with 58.4% strongly agreeing.
In a statement following the release of the poll, Locke CEO Donald Bryson highlighted the findings, saying:
“The overwhelming support for open records laws among North Carolinians, as evidenced by the Civitas Poll, clearly demonstrates a public demand for transparency and accountability in governance…voters, generally, do not believe legislators deserve special privileges compared to other public servants. My advice to the General Assembly is to reverse the open records changes in this year’s state budget before it becomes a political liability.”
Back in October, a coalition of news and public organizations, including The John Locke Foundation and The Carolina Journal, sent a public letter to members of the North Carolina General Assembly expressing concerns about the changes to public records laws made in September and urged lawmakers to make changes to provide more transparency, not less.
In October, after the revisions to open-record laws, I raised this question in an article. It’s a question that I still have two months later:
What happened to public records being “property of the people?”
Friend, if the results from the latest Civitas Poll show us anything, it’s that North Carolinians value transparency and that it’s crucial in enhancing public trust in lawmakers.
I echo Donald’s call for North Carolina lawmakers to reverse the changes to public record laws in this year’s state budget.
In this age of escalating skepticism towards government, it is imperative that we assertively champion the cause of governmental transparency with our legislators.
Transparency fosters trust, assuring citizens that their government operates in their favor, not against them, giving voters a sense of peace and security.