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Leading Democrats Call for Investigation into Trump Administration Subpoenas of North Carolina Voter Information

In a letter to DHS and DOJ Inspectors General, members voice concern over apparent attempt at voter suppression and intimidation to limit equal access to the ballot box
Sep 7, 2018
Correspondence

(WASHINGTON) - In a letter today, top Democrats voiced strong concerns about the scope of recent Trump Administration subpoenas demanding millions of North Carolina voter records and called for an investigation into the legality and political motivation behind this unprecedented request for private voter information.

The letter, from Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Robert A. Brady (D-Pa.), Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and North Carolina Representatives David E. Price (D-N.C.),  G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (D-N.C), asks the Inspectors General of the Department of Justice and the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency to promptly undertake an investigation to determine the legal implications of and rationale for these subpoenas.

“These subpoenas are overly broad, request private voter information, and appear to target voters of color,” the members write. “Accordingly, we respectfully request that you undertake an investigation to examine the circumstances by which these subpoenas were issued, the scope of the subpoenas, and the seemingly political motivations behind them.”

The members note that President Trump “has continually repeated false claims regarding widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election,” leading to the creation of his Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that “was disbanded in January after being the subject of endless controversy and litigation.” Despite this, President Trump subsequently charged the Department of Homeland Security to “continue investigating the myth of widespread voter fraud. This document request by ICE appears to pick up where the Commission left off and seeks to use allegations of widespread voter fraud to justify voter suppression and intimation practices.”

The letter concludes: “Given what we know about the scope of the subpoenas, and the counties that were targeted, we strongly suspect that this is part of the Trump administration’s dangerous and anti-democratic strategy of voter suppression and intimidation to limit equal access to the ballot box.”

Specifically, the members request the Inspectors General begin an investigation that considers the following questions:

  • What motivated the request for these documents?
  • How was this particular set of records chosen for the subpoena?
  • Was there any consideration of whether the request was overly broad?
  • Do the subpoenas violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process or any other constitutional provision?
  • Do the subpoenas violate the National Voter Registration Act of 1993?
  • Do the subpoenas violate North Carolina law?
  • Why was the deadline initially set for September 25, 2018, less than two months before an election?
  • Why was the deadline moved to after the November election?
  • Does this action have any precedent? Is DHS planning to make similar requests in other states?
  • Is DHS following President Trump’s directive to investigate widespread voter fraud?
  • Are these subpoenas related to the DHS’ work following the President’s directive to investigate widespread voter fraud?
  • Is ICE planning to use voter data to initiate deportation proceedings?
  • Did DOJ and DHS follow all relevant laws and guidance, including the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual, in issuing the subpoenas, and was there a less intrusive method that the agencies rejected?
  • Was there a reasonable evidential basis for the scope of the subpoenas?
  • If the agencies obtain the requested records, do they have appropriate plans to limit the use of these records to the state purpose of the grand jury subpoenas and ensure their secure storage?

The full text of the letter can be found online here

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MEDIA CONTACTS:          

Peter Whippy (House Administration) 202-225-3072
Aryele Bradford (Oversight) 202-226-5181
Adam Comis (Homeland Security) 202-225-9978
Shadawn Reddick-Smith (Judiciary) 202-225-6906
Daniel Schwarz (Judiciary) 202-225-5635
Sawyer Hackett (Price) 202-225-1784
Meaghan Lynch (Butterfield) 202-225-3101
Brendien Mitchell (Adams) 202-225-1510