Bladen is among 44 counties in eastern North Carolina served with a subpoena for voting records by federal investigators.
The voting records sought by Immigration and Customs Enforcement could be a signal that the U.S. attorney in Raleigh will be prosecuting more illegal voting by people who are not American citizens. Bobby Higdon’s office said two weeks ago that 19 foreign nationals were charged with registering to vote or casting ballots illegally because they were not U.S. citizens. More than half were indicted by a grand jury in Wilmington.
The state elections board estimates more than 20 million documents are being sought by Sept. 25.
Bladen and every county it borders — Cumberland, Sampson, Pender, Columbus and Robeson — have been subpoenaed. The defining line stretches from South Carolina to Virginia, with the western edge formed by Robeson, Cumberland, Harnett, Wake and Granville counties.
The Atlantic Ocean is the eastern border.
The state board is expected to discuss the subpoena at a meeting today. State and county election boards have been pressed, because of separate litigations on amendments and redistricting maps, to meet federal law deadlines.
By Sept. 22, absentee ballots must be available to military and overseas voters.
Ballots, poll books and voter authorization forms are being sought over the past five years from county election boards. The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement wants records back to 2010 that include voter registration applications, absentee ballot request forms and provisional balloting forms from all 100 of the state’s counties.
“The subpoenas faxed to county boards are the most exhaustive on record,” state board lawyer Josh Lawson wrote Monday to an assistant federal prosecutor who requested last Friday’s subpoenas that have been made public, The Associated Press reported. “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.”
The AP said a state board postelection audit for the November 2016 election counted 41 people who were not U.S. citizens who acknowledged voting. The review said all were in the country legally. There were 4.8 million votes cast.
Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or email@example.com. Twitter: @alanwooten19.