Secretary of State Mark Martin has just lowered the cost of using his office.

His deputy, Alice Stewart, says copy charges will henceforth by 11 cents a page, not the 25 cents a page charged previously. We paid for hundreds of copies in the course of a voluminous FOI request. I objected at the time to the charge, because the law says the charge may not exceed the cost and that an office cannot charge for any labor entailed in compliance.

Stewart says the fee was an “honest mistake,” based on information from the company that provides copy machines. She said it stemmed from his misunderstanding that the copies were black and white, not more expensive color.

The Times’ FOI request was followed by several others and, I gather, I was not alone in objecting to the quarter-a-page rate. So now we have a credit for future requests.

Copy charges aside, Martin has still declined to offer his opinion on Stewart’s appearance as a Republican commentator on national cable TV shows. He had vowed during his campaign that he’d have strict policies on political activities by office employees so as not create even an appearance of impropriety by the office that oversees elections. Stewart says she takes leave from the office or is otherwise off duty when she makes the appearances.