Feds now say they will wait until January for ballots, election docs

By on September 6, 2018

Update, Sept. 6, 10 p.m.
Federal prosecutors and immigration enforcement officers have revised their subpoena of millions of voting-related documents and ballots from the state and 44 counties across eastern North Carolina.

After local and state elections officials said meeting the subpoena’s demands by Sept. 25 would have hampered preparations for the November mid-term elections, the assistant prosecutor for the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for eastern North Carolina has extended the deadline to January.

They also will allow the redaction of how more then 2 million absentee and early voters marked their ballots.

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Federal prosecutors issued subpoenas Tuesday to the election boards in 44 North Carolina counties, including Dare and Currituck, and the state Board of Elections for tens of millions of documents dating back to 2010 and covers all ballots cast in previous elections.

Over two million ballots cast in elections over the last five years could be traced to the voter who cast them, and more than 15 million documents and images would have to be provided.

One local elections official said the request would be “devastating” to preparations for the upcoming mid-term general election that have been delayed due to several court battles.

The subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern North Carolina, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security requested the poll books, voting records, and all ballots cast in elections starting in 2013 from the county boards.

The N.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has been told to turn over all voter registration applications, absentee ballot applications, voter registration cancellation and other related forms from 2010 to 2018.

The subpoena issued Aug. 31 comes with 60 days remaining before the Nov. 6 election. The deadline for the documents to be submitted to prosecutors is Sept. 25.

Individual counties that received the subpoena are Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne, and Wilson.

All of the counties are in the district covered by U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon’s office.

WRAL-TV reported the inquiry may be connected to a grand jury investigation that charged 19 foreign nationals last month with voting in the 2016 elections.

That inquiry was also based in Wilmington, and this new round of subpoenas comes from investigators in that case: U.S. Attorney Sebastian Kielmanovich and Homeland Security/ICE Special Agent Jahaira Torrens.

The U.S. Department of Justice has said they would have no comment on the subpoenas.

WRAL reported Wake County Commissioner John Burns wrote to Higdon Wednesday, asking him to explain “the scope and timing of this extraordinary request.”

“I write to let you know that this investigation, launched 60 days prior to a general election of monumental importance … risks being viewed by the public as a partisan effort to interfere with the vote,” Burns wrote.

Joshua Lawson, attorney for the state Board of Elections, wrote in an e-mail to Kielmanovich “the subpoenas faxed to county boards are the most exhaustive on record.”

The email was a response to Kielmanovich, who had informed Lawson the individual counties could request an extension to the Sept. 25 deadline.

“In our view, compliance with the subpoena as-written will materially affect the ability of county administrators to perform time-critical tasks ahead of absentee voting and early voting,” Lawson said.

According to figures provided by state Board of Elections spokesperson Patrick Gannon, 2,268,167 ballots from elections held between Aug. 2013 and Aug. 2018 in North Carolina are traceable to the voters who cast them.

A person who votes early is assigned an individual number that also appears on the top of balloys cast by mail or at one-stop early voting.

3,367,012 ballots cast on election days during the same five-year period are not traceable to individual voters.

The state elections board is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting by phone on Friday. Kim Strach, executive director of the state board, told the local boards by email to consult with their county’s attorney.

Currituck Board of Elections Director Sydni Banks said they are waiting for guidance from that meeting on how to proceed, but she would at least request an extension to the deadline.

Michele Barnes, director of elections for Dare County, was out of the office on Tuesday and not available for comment.

Banks said they had not yet determined the total number of documents they would have to submit, and how long it would take to fill the request in Currituck.

“We will have to bring in our part-time elections workers to assist with gathering the documents,” Banks said. That will cost the county more money, above what has already been budgeted for the election.

The subpoena adds on to an already packed timeframe for elections offices because of delays in getting ballots printed for this year’s election.

This Friday is supposed to the first day ballots are sent to those who requested to vote absentee by mail.

But state courts just decided Tuesday that the language written by the General Assembly for six proposed amendments to the N.C. Constitution will be on the ballot.

And a federal appeals court will allow the November election to proceed using the current maps for congressional districts, despite the same panel of judges ruling that the districts drawn by the GOP majority in the legislature were illegal partisan gerrymanders.

The ballots have to still be formally approved by the local and state boards, sent to a printing company in New Bern that handles all 100 counties, then returned for final inspection before they can mailed to voters.

Banks said if an extension of the subpoena’s deadline is not granted, having to fulfill the requirements in less than three weeks would be “devastating.”


  • disgruntled

    “risks being viewed by the public as a partisan effort to interfere with the vote,” Burns wrote.”
    That risk is also evident when an idea as simple as picture ID gets so much resistance. The grand jury’s investigation and charges only exemplify the reasons for more precautions.

    Thursday, Sep 6 @ 9:09 am
  • DS

    I have a friend in a rural NC inland County who went to vote and she was told she already had. This was odd as she had been out of the country and there was no way she told the person at the voting center. She had to provide a lot of documents and was finally able to vote. I haven’t heard the outcome if they caught the fraudulent voter who voted using her name, nor have I heard if that fraudulent vote was rescinded.

    Thursday, Sep 6 @ 9:19 am
  • Really?

    Maybe ol’ Roy “lawsuit” Cooper can sue someone for this. Another example of the need for basic voter id laws.

    Thursday, Sep 6 @ 10:20 am
  • Dylan

    And yet the liberals continue to insist that voter fraud does not exist.

    When I was in undergraduate school in PA in the 1970’s, students would brag about voting twice….once at school and once at home in another State.

    All the “misinformation” on social media re: politics is nothing but voter fraud in a more insidious form.

    Thursday, Sep 6 @ 11:06 am
  • dave

    Voter fraud is about 0.0001%….and mostly conservatives that do it. FACT! Look it up. State is so gerrymandered towards conservatives that the Supreme Court told the state to make it fair. Since conservatives don’t really have any ideas other than to give the rich tax breaks and deregulate so the rich can make more at everyone else’s expense; they’ve adopted a “If ya can’t beat ’em, cheat ’em” motto. Vote Rich, Live Poor!

    Thursday, Sep 6 @ 11:29 am
  • Babbs

    Will this mean Cooper actually won by voter fraud.

    Thursday, Sep 6 @ 3:01 pm
  • Really?

    Who cares if it’s 0.0001% or 0.000000000000000001% ??? Fraud is still fraud!

    Thursday, Sep 6 @ 3:09 pm
  • WombatNC

    Talk about a “witch hunt”; well, here’s a real one! The same people crying about voter fraud, are the same ones who are just fine with the russians hacking our elections (as long as “whatever he is” won). Hypocrits! It’s pretty simple; voter ID laws are a tool used by GOP controlled state legislatures around the country for voter suppression. It is used against the poor and elderly (with no passport or driver’s license), who vote mostly for democrats. The Supreme Court has already ruled against the voter ID law the state of Arizona passed, stating that it was unconstitutional. Add this to the NC GOP led agenda with the unconstitutional gerrymandered districts (for THREE elections now!) this proves how desperate that republicans are to win and stay in power. Constitutionality and laws mean nothing to this lot and with the Liar-in-Chief in the White House, who feels he’s above the laws/Constitution, it paves the way for his underlings to feel the same. Pitiful!
    Vote for change in November and Make America Better Than This BS Again!

    Thursday, Sep 6 @ 4:57 pm
  • Greg

    Has ICE reunited the children they kidnapped from people who committed a misdemeanor? This records subpoena by ICE is no doubt unconstitutional and will end up in court and cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars. Just as the unlawful proposals emminating from BergerMoore and their lackeys

    Thursday, Sep 6 @ 8:33 pm
  • Floyd

    Why are the communist so afraid of voter fraud investigations?

    If Voter fraud is so infrequent then why are you so scared?

    Friday, Sep 7 @ 8:20 am
  • Bebe reposo

    Seems that many people commenting here don’t recall the investigation into voter fraud by Trump and his stooge kolbatch
    They came up empty and disbanded. So apparently it’s try, try again to intimidate voters.

    Friday, Sep 7 @ 10:57 am
  • Luminous

    @Floyd: I don’t speak for any “communists,” but what Democrats understand is that this “Investigation” isn’t about uncovering illegal immigrant vote fraud. You see where it says “19 votes” in the story? If you really want to uncover how an election actually was swung illegally, you have to keep investigating the Russian hacker connection to Trump. The goal of this “investigation” is one of a number of steps Republicans have taken to suppress minority voter turnout, not illegal immigrants, who certainly should not be voting, but minorities legally entitled to vote, because guess which party they are much less likely to vote for?

    Friday, Sep 7 @ 1:40 pm
  • disgruntled

    Why would an investigation into illegal activities suppress legal activities?

    Monday, Sep 10 @ 6:24 am
  • Floyd

    Luminous still thinks Trump won because of Russian hackers. ROFLMFAO

    The only “voters” that will be intimidated are those that vote illegally.

    Why so scared? Why can’t our elections be monitored?

    The voter suppression argument is ridiculous and has been proven to be false.

    Monday, Sep 10 @ 8:19 am
  • dave

    @ Floyd…. You need to quit watching State TV and getting your “Fake News”. Why so gerrymandered? Yes, why can’t our elections be monitored? The voter suppression argument is very real and proven to be proven true. Even the Supreme Court ordered NC’s districts be redrawn because the’re soooo gerrymandered. You guys can’t even cheat smart….always got to be too greedy!
    Oh, and that witch hunt has bagged over 35 indictments and many, many guilty pleas/verdicts. Tremendously guilty! Nobody’s ever been more guilty! Have to be the most guilty everrrrrrrr!

    Monday, Sep 17 @ 2:31 pm
  • dave

    @really: Yes, the republicans need to quit cheating in elections. Republicans are way more likely to commit voter fraud than the democrats. Yes, fraud is fraud; tell your republican friends to quit committing fraud please. Thx.

    Tuesday, Sep 18 @ 8:00 am