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State Elections Board Fights Federal Subpoenas

Photo: 'Vote Here' sign in English and Spanish
Erik Hersman

The state elections board is refusing to comply with federal subpoenas seeking confidential voter information.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asked the Eastern District of North Carolina federal court to issue subpoenas for the state elections board and 44 county boards. But prosecutors have not said what the subpoenas are for. They come after a federal grand jury indicted 19 people accused of being foreign nationals and casting illegal votes in North Carolina in 2016.

Elections Board Chairman Andy Penry told fellow members on a teleconference this morning the subpoenaed documents would include records showing what individual voters' ballots looked like.

"Our General Assembly has told us by statute that we are absolutely prohibited from disclosing that information to anybody, absent a court order. That's a good statute and it's there for a really good reason," Penry said.

The bipartisan board went into executive session and then emerged to unanimously vote to ask the state attorney general to take steps to quash the subpoenas.

"This board will, as required by our fiduciary responsibilities as state elections officials, not stand idly by and consent to an agency attempting to obtain records and documents that violate the principles of overreach," said elections board Vice Chairman Joshua Malcolm, reciting the language the board approved to accompany its request to the state attorney general.

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