RALEIGH, N.C. — Federal investigators seeking a massive number of voting records from North Carolina election officials also want voter registration documents from the state Division of Motor Vehicles.
A DMV spokesman confirmed Monday that the agency had received a subpoena recently from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh. Prosecutors want voter registration applications since 2010 that meet at least one of the several criteria, including applications from foreign-born applicants and from non-U.S. citizens "completed in a language other than English," according to a copy of the subpoena.
The state elections board is already fighting to block federal subpoenas sent to it and 44 county elections boards, calling them overly broad and unreasonable. The state board estimated those requests for ballots, poll books, absentee ballot requests, registration applications and other documents would cover more than 20 million records.
The elections board and DMV subpoenas were issued Aug. 31. Each set a Sept. 25 deadline to provide the documents to a Wilmington grand jury or to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.
U.S. Attorney Bobby Higdon hasn't explained publicly why these documents are needed. But he announced last month charges against nearly 20 non-U.S. citizens for illegal voting. Many were indicted by a Wilmington grand jury. His office said it had no comment Monday on the DMV subpoena.
The state board voted to try to quash the election boards' subpoenas a day after an assistant federal prosecutor wrote that election officials could wait to comply until early next year to give them time to administer the November midterm elections.
It wasn't clear Monday how DMV will respond to the subpoena. Attorneys for the state Department of Transportation — DMV's parent agency within Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's administration — are reviewing it, DMV spokesman Jamie Kritzer said. But the DMV subpoena — its existence first reported on by The New York Times — establishes a wider scope by prosecutors looking at voter and voting documents.
A 1993 federal law requires the state DMV to offer voter registration services to people who are applying for, renewing or changing the address on a driver's license or state-issued identification card.
The subpoena to DMV also asks for registration applications and supporting documents in cases where the applicant lacked a license and or a Social Security card, or used "a foreign passport or other foreign identity document." Investigators also want applications that were "denied, rescinded, revoked, or otherwise have been found to be fraudulent, incorrectly filed, ineligible" or had other irregularities.
Voting rights activists and Democratic members of Congress have criticized the subpoenas to the election boards as needless interference in elections by President Donald Trump's administration that could result in intimidating lawful voters so they won't cast ballots this fall. Some state board members said some of the requested documents contain confidential information, and that state law prevents access to voted ballots absent a court order.
Several U.S. House Democrats asked U.S. Justice and Homeland Security departments last Friday to investigate why those subpoenas were issued.