Minutes and secret votes

(a)  The minutes of a meeting of any such governmental body shall be promptly and fully recorded, shall be open to public inspection, and shall include, but not be limited to, a record of persons present, all motions, proposals and resolutions offered, the results of any votes taken, and a record of individual votes in the event of roll call.

(b)  All votes of any such governmental body shall be by public vote or public ballot or public roll call. No secret votes, or secret ballots, or secret roll calls shall be allowed. As used in this chapter, “public vote” means a vote in which the “aye” faction vocally expresses its will in unison and in which the “nay” faction, subsequently, vocally expresses its will in unison.

T.C.A. 8-44-104

The law calls for the minutes of a meeting to be “promptly and fully recorded” and that they be “open to public inspection.”

Minutes must include who is present, all motions, proposals and resolutions and results of votes.

It also says that all votes must be public, and cannot be secret either by secret ballot or secret roll call. 

Some administrators or clerks working for governing bodies try to withhold drafts of minutes until they are approved by the body, usually weeks later at the next meeting.

Since drafts of minutes are not exempt under the Public Records Act, they are a public record open to inspection.

If a governing body audio- or video-records a meeting, those recordings are also a public record from the time created. In fairness, news reporters and others should identify draft minutes as “drafts” since they could be corrected at the next meeting.