Ninety-seven percent of Oklahomans think people should be able to obtain information about what their government does, according to the poll.
Just 2 percent of those polled disagreed, while 1 percent had no opinion.
"There is overwhelming consensus that what the government does should be transparent, that we should know or see what the government is doing," said Gary Copeland, a University of Oklahoma political scientist and adviser to the poll.
At the same time, Oklahomans think the public should have access to public records without paying a hefty fee.
The Oklahoma Open Records Act limits the fee to 25 cents per page for copies when the request is in the public interest.
But in a recent open records survey by The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World, a reporter who visited the Pauls Valley Police Department not only was charged eight times the amount allowed by law, but he had to walk to a nearby convenience store to get change so he could pay for the public records he requested.
Meanwhile, a reporter left without buying the Oklahoma City Police Department radio log when he learned the cost was several thousand dollars.
In The Oklahoman /OU Poll, 89 percent said the government should not be able to sell public records to the public for a profit. Six percent said it should, while 5 percent had no opinion.
Also, a majority of those polled were supportive of opening records when they pertained to elected officials:
Ninety-five percent said all expenditures of the state Legislature should be made public. Three percent disagreed; and 2 percent had no opinion.
Fifty-nine percent said Oklahoma legislators and other state elected officials should make public how much of their personal income comes from which sources. Thirty-four percent disagreed; and 7 percent had no opinion.
The scientific telephone poll of 400 Oklahomans was conducted by the OU's Public Opinion Learning Laboratory between Aug. 21 and Aug. 24.
The poll has a plus or minus error rate of 5 percent and a confidence interval of 95 percent. That means that if the same poll were taken 100 times, the results would be within the 5 percent margin of error 95 times.
While Oklahomans overwhelmingly support government openness, "at some point, that openness runs into the rights of individuals, and that becomes a tougher call," Copeland said.
"Should jail records be open?" he asked. "The other side of that is, should the ones in jail have some right to privacy?"
Sixty percent of those polled said the names of all persons held in jails should be made public.
Twenty-six percent disagreed, while 14 percent had no opinion.
The question that caused the most division among those polled concerned whether the Oklahoma Tax Commission should make public the names of anyone who pays taxes.
Forty-five percent said it should; 43 percent said it should not; and 12 percent had no opinion.
"Privacy, of course, has become the biggest hurdle for access to government records," said Paul McMasters, First Amendment ombudsman at the Freedom Forum in Arlington, Va.
Under Oklahoma law, whether someone paid their taxes is public information, tax commission spokeswoman Paula Ross said.
And for those who don't pay taxes, the amount they owe becomes a public record when a tax lien is filed, Ross said.
But Oklahomans who pay taxes should not worry about details of their finances becoming public, she said.
"That's one of our most strict rules," Ross said. "We understand the confidentiality of the records we have."