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Lawmaker calls on NC secretary of state to resign over notary IDs

Posted March 28

A Republican North Carolina lawmaker is calling on Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall to resign or face impeachment over her handling of notary public licenses.

— A Republican North Carolina lawmaker is calling on Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall to resign or face impeachment over her handling of notary public licenses, but Marshall says the move is politically motivated.

Rep. Chris Millis, R-Pender, held a press conference Tuesday at the Legislative Building.

"If the secretary chooses not to resign, I will proceed with all legislative actions, including a resolution for impeachment," Millis said.

Millis said his investigation began last September, when he "came across an article that reported that the North Carolina secretary of state may have commissioned illegal immigrants as notaries public – a direct conflict with state and federal law."

He said he received 1,700 pages of documents in response to his request in February for documents on file of notary public license applications. His review of the documents leads him to believe that 320 people who do not legally reside in the United States have been commissioned as notaries public over the past nine years, he said.

The bulk of those, 250, were in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and submitted DACA driver's licenses or employment authorization cards as proof of identity and eligibility, Millis said. In other cases, he said, people had submitted NAFTA work authorizations or Mexican passports, and one even had a final deportation order filed against her.

Neither state nor federal law requires that a notary be a U.S. citizen. He or she must, however, "reside legally in the United States." The issue appears to be the definition of legal residency.

DACA is a federal program that allows unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to work and study in the country, but the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service website states that it does not give them "lawful status" in terms of immigration.

Deputy Secretary of State Haley Haynes told a legislative oversight committee in December that more than 500 notaries are not citizens and that the office is "keeping up with them."

Millis, however, claimed Tuesday that the office's notary application form does not say it accepts DACA documents or other non-green-card immigration documents for verification of identity or residency, and he accused Marshall of trying to deceive the public about it.

"A notary is a ministerial officer of the state of North Carolina, appointed to perform acknowledgements, oaths and affirmations, verifications. But one important specific power a notary has in our state is the power to witness absentee ballots," Millis said. "In this era of heightened sensitivity to voter fraud, election interference, contention over immigration policy, it is especially troubling that the secretary has commissioned more than 320 alien notaries who can single-handedly validate absentee ballots."

Asked whether he had any evidence that any of the 320 had actually done so, Millis said that he does not but that the issue would be part of "Phase 2" of his investigation.

Marshall denied any wrongdoing and said Millis's accusations are politically motivated.

"This is simply a rehashing of the political attack used by my opponent [Republican Michael LaPaglia] in the recent election," Marshall said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has authorized the specifically mentioned notaries to work here lawfully. That federally authorized status continues to be unchanged by the new presidential administration.”

Millis has filed a bill to require all notaries public in North Carolina to be U.S. citizens.

5 Comments

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  • Linda Levine Mar 29, 2:15 a.m.
    user avatar

    Did any Republicans hear about just working to fix a problem instead of wanting to fire everyone? You do an investigation and, unless you find fraud, you work to resolve the issue. It must be why they like Donald so much.

  • Mike Slawter Mar 28, 11:10 p.m.
    user avatar

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    It has nothing to do with voter suppression. I spent 9 years working in that office in various roles from Assistant to the General Counsel to Senior Examiner. There is much more that, if the NC General Assembly were to dig deeper, would definitely cause this office to be turned on it's head. I was forced to accept filings that were outside of statutory guidelines and were not fileable according to the law. And it was all because of the Deputy Sec of State.

  • Victor Cruz-Saez Mar 28, 9:32 p.m.
    user avatar

    Mr. Miller and the rest of the radical jabronis at the legislature. You do realize that Secretary Marshall was voted by the same Citizens that you are, supposedly, working for? So, if you try to impeach an elected figure, are you and your cronies not doing the same things you have been crying about ie, voter suppression??

  • Mike Slawter Mar 28, 2:55 p.m.
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    View quoted thread


    Other than the fact that her signature and the state seal are both on the notarial certificate issued to these people. That's a problem. She has the authority to appoint the notaries under state statute whereas no others do.

  • Chad Stinner Mar 28, 2:23 p.m.
    user avatar

    You do realize that Elaine Marshall didn't authorize those notaries directly. While her department is absolutely responsible for addressing this issue and preventing it in the future... threatening impeachment concerning an issue where there is absolutely no proof of occurrence (not a single one) is silly.

    Just like HB2