Elections boards caught off guard by subpoenas

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LELAND, NC (WWAY) — Federal prosecutors have backed off requiring North Carolina elections officials from providing tens of millions of ballots and voting documents before the end of the month. 44 counties, including those in our area, now have until January to gather those records.

After a labor day weekend, county elections boards across the state received subpoenas from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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“My immediate reaction was send it to the county attorney because that’s who is going to assist me and represent me in producing all of these documents,” Brunswick County Elections Director Sara Knotts said.

ICE wants nearly a decade’s worth of voting records. The letter says the subpoenas were served on behalf of a federal grand jury to avoid the possible destruction of documents by the board of elections, since voting records must be destroyed after some time. For some counties, gathering records will stretch them thin.

“That is a lot of paperwork. We keep all of our records for retention in the warehouse. They’re all boxed up by election, labeled and stacked to the ceiling. So going over and pulling those records and getting them ready to produce is going to be a huge undertaking for us,” Knotts said.



“The work flow will definitely be affected but we will certainly make sure that we’re complying with all the tasks that we need to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis,” New Hanover Elections Director Rae Hunter-Havens said.

The letter from the Department of Justice also says they want to protect the confidentiality of any ballots that were cast. For now local elections boards are waiting to hear from the state board of elections before they do anything.

We have not heard back from Pender, Columbus or Bladen counties about this issue. Reasons for the subpoenas aren’t certain, but several non-U.S. citizens have faced charges for illegal voting. The U.S attorney’s office told us they did not have a comment.