Any North Carolinian who didn’t fill out their voter registration form in English at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or who wasn’t born in one of the 50 U.S. states or the District of Columbia have been targeted as part of a federal criminal investigation.
The U.S. Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina issued the DMV a subpoena at the same time they issued subpoenas to the State Board of Elections and the 44 county boards of elections — but the former was much more narrow than the latter and wasn’t made publicly available until today.
Jamie Kritzer, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said Monday that the agency’s counsel was reviewing the subpoena. NC Policy Watch submitted a public records request for any correspondence between the agency and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but was told it may take some time to fill due to a high volume of requests and the impending hurricane.
The request to the DMV, which was made on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), targets mainly immigrants and children of immigrants by asking for non-citizen voter registration forms but even extends to citizens born anywhere outside the 50 U.S. states or the District of Columbia. That could mean North Carolinians born overseas at a military base or in U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and Guam.
It asks for applications that were filled out in any language other than English and applications in which individuals did not have a driver’s license or a security card. It also asks for any and all applications in which a person presented a North Carolina identification card and not a driver’s license — this is a common scenario for people with disabilities, suspended licenses, the elderly and anyone who doesn’t drive but needs an ID.
Roughly 50 percent of voters register through the DMV, though that number varies by year, according to State Board spokesman Pat Gannon. For example, 68 to 69 percent of new registrants so far in 2018 registered through the DMV.
The U.S. Attorneys Office did not comment last week when asked about the subpoenas it sent to the State Board and the county boards of elections. Those subpoenas asked for an unprecedented amount of voter information and the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office is working to squelch them.
National media outlets reported last week that the elections subpoenas were related to an investigation in which a Wilmington grand jury indicted 19 foreign national citizens for allegedly illegally voting, but voting rights advocates are concerned the requests are a fishing expedition meant to interfere in the midterm elections by intimidating voters.
It’s not yet clear if the DMV will fight its subpoena, but the U.S. Attorneys Office has requested all the documents be returned to them by Sept. 25 for testimony before a Wilmington grand jury.
See the full subpoena and the voter information requested below: