North Carolina’s elections board pushed back against “unreasonable” federal subpoenas for years’ worth of voter records.
The state’s elections board voted on Friday to challenge subpoenas by federal immigration officials for more than 20 million documents in a probe into alleged fraud, Reuters reported.
BREAKING: U.S. Attorney’s Office is postponing subpoena compliance to Jan. 2019 if @NCSBE agrees to preserve info — they’re also asking for info to be redacted so as not to compromise voter privacy #ncpol pic.twitter.com/QUMNbt1mqX
— Melissa Boughton (@mel_bough) September 6, 2018
9-Member @ncsbe Board (1 Unaffiliated, 4 Republicans, 4 Democrats) moves to adjourn after deciding unanimously to work to quash state and county-level ICE subpoenas.
— Democracy NC (@democracync) September 7, 2018
The subpoenas were issued last month by the U.S. Justice Department on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement addressing North Carolina’s state board and more than 40 county elections boards.
But the vice chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement found the demand was “overly broad, unreasonable, vague, and clearly impacts significant interests of our voters.”
“This Board will … not stand idly by and consent to any agency attempting to obtain records and documents that violate the principles of overreach by the federal government, as in this circumstance,” Joshua Malcolm said before Friday’s vote, according to Reuters.
A state assistant attorney general fired off a letter Friday asking a federal prosecutor to immediately withdraw the subpoenas as the North Carolina board, in a unanimous vote, authorized the state attorney general’s office to take action against the federal request.
According t0 Reuters:
The federal government is seeking documents dating back to 2010 including voter registration application information, forms that voters sign at polling places before casting ballots, records declaring U.S. citizenship and official ballots.
Complying with the subpoenas would mean producing more than 15 million documents from the state board and about 5.6 million ballots from the counties, state elections board spokesman Patrick Gannon said in an email.
“We do not know the impetus behind these subpoenas,” he said.
The Justice Department postponed the deadline until January after a September 25 date sparked criticism from elections officials who said they were focusing on getting ready for November elections.
“We are deeply concerned by the administrative drain on county boards of elections in order to comply with the extensive subpoenas immediately prior to a federal election, including the necessary reproduction of millions of documents (all ballots, etc.),” Lawson said in his letter to the assistant U.S. attorney, according to Fox News.
The subpoenas came weeks after 19 foreign nationals were charged by the Justice Department of illegally voting in North Carolina in the 2016 election.