by Anna Manning
Carolina Journal’s Lindsay Marchello reports:
In a rare show of unity, the state elections board unanimously agreed during a Sept. 7 teleconference to challenge federal subpoenas of millions of voter records.
The board said state law barred it from sharing information from individual voters to the extent requested in the subpoenas. The office of U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon hasn’t said why it wants the records, but an election attorney who’s prosecuted voter fraud cases said the request is related to recent arrests of illegal immigrants who voted in North Carolina.
On Aug. 31, Higdon issued subpoenas to 44 county elections boards requesting documents including voting records, voter authorizations, and executed official ballots from Aug. 30, 2013, to Aug. 30, 2018. The subpoenas also called for absentee official ballots during that time frame.
The state elections board received its own subpoena for all voter registration applications and documents dating to 2010.
The subpoenas were issued on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service.
“The subpoenas represent an unprecedented fishing expedition,” said Chris Brook, the American Civil Liberties Union Of North Carolina’s legal director. “It’ll jeopardize the privacy of millions of voters and distract from more urgent challenges to our voter system.”
Brook said the subpoenas seemed designed to intimidate minority voters.
“ICE still hasn’t offered any explanation for why it wants this data,” Brook said. “Our perspective is that county officials should do everything in their power to protect the rights of voters.”
J. Christian Adams, president and general counsel at the Public Interest Legal Foundation, said the subpoenas are to investigate illegal voting activity. Last month, 19 North Carolinians were indicted on charges of voting illegally in the November 2016 election.
“They are conducting a criminal investigation into alien voting crimes,” Adams said in an email. “This really isn’t a story. One thing is for sure, it is a problem in North Carolina.”
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