North Carolina hit with subpoena for millions of voter records by federal officials investigating fraud

Federal immigration officials have subpoenaed more than 20 million documents related to voter records in North Carolina as part of an investigation into alleged fraud.

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The official request is “the most exhaustive on record” for election officials, North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement (NCSBE) attorney Josh Lawson said to the assistant U.S. attorney named on the subpoena in an email, which was provided to Fox News.

The request comes just weeks after Justice Department officials charged 19 foreign nationals with illegal voting in North Carolina in the 2016 election. The cases are also being investigated by the Immigration and Custom Enforcements (ICE) agency.

The defendants – from numerous countries, including Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Nigeria and Germany – were accused of filing a false claim of citizenship in order to vote or illegal voting.

The subpoena request, which state officials say impedes their efforts to get ready for November elections, asks for more than 15 million documents in North Carolina’s voter registration database as well as more than 5.6 million individual ballots from 44 counties, according to data provided to Fox News by the NCSBE.

Specifically, the subpoena requests of the counties: “Any and all poll books, e-poll books, voting records, and/or voter authorization documents, and executive official ballots (including absentee official ballots), that were submitted to, filed by, received by, and/or maintained by the [specific county's board of elections] from August 30, 2013 through August 30, 2018.”

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And of the state board of elections: “Any and all voter registration applications and/or other documents, as identified below, that were submitted to, filed by, received by, or maintained by the North Carolina State Board of Elections from January 1, 2010 through August 30, 2018, within any of the counties in North Carolina.”

The state has a deadline of Sept. 25 to comply with the subpoena request, although Assistant U.S. Attorney Sebastian Kielmanovich indicated county board officials could apply for an extension.

“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.

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“Responding to the subpoena will impose an unreasonable burden upon the staff of each county subpoenaed, and it is difficult to believe that it will be possible to review the vast quantity of requested materials before the general election,” Wake County Commissioner John D. Burns said in a letter to U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon.

Higdon resides over the 44 counties specifically targeted in the subpoena, according to WRAL-TV. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina declined to comment on the subpoenas to Fox News on Thursday.

Wake County Board of Elections Vice Chairman Greg Flynn told WRAL: “I don’t even know if they have the manpower to process all that. It’s just so broad, and the number of documents you’re talking about is just phenomenal.”

Burns also said the investigation “risks being viewed by the public as a partisan effort to interfere with the vote” in the upcoming general election.

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In a joint statement, Democratic Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield, who represent the area, slammed the "alarming and unprecedented request from President Trump's Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement." 

"This massive request of voter data seems clearly designed to disenfranchise and intimidate voters and to disrupt the administration of an impending election with major state and national implications," the congressmen said. 

There has been an intense debate in the country – particularly in North Carolina – over voter fraud and efforts by Republican lawmakers to impose stricter voter ID requirements. President Trump, too, has long claimed widespread voter fraud took place in the 2016 election, an assertion that has not been substantiated. But Democrats have argued voting fraud is not a widespread problem.

Trump launched a voter fraud commission in his first year in office, but it disbanded after facing multiple legal challenges as it attempted a widespread collection of data.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.