Records from PILF Litigation: North Carolina Identified 1,400 Registrants who Appeared to be Foreign Nationals 

Motor Voter is the number one cause of foreign nationals getting registered to vote across the country and hampers officials’ ability to remove them.

(Raleigh, NC) – June 22, 2023: Prior to the 2014 midterm elections, North Carolina had more than 10,000 registered voters that might be foreign nationals according to information they obtained from federal and state immigration databases. The state sought to prevent foreign nationals from voting and performed a 10,000-registrant audit before the midterm election. The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) fought to obtain documents relating to this audit for two years, before receiving a favorable ruling from the U.S. Fourth Circuit of Appeals.

The documents obtained by PILF reveal that North Carolina identified 1,454 registrants on the voter roll who did not appear to be naturalized before Election Day 2014 and would need to be challenged at the polls. Of those, 89 attempted to vote.

The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), more commonly known as Motor Voter, requires DMVs to offer voter registration. Most foreigners are registered through the DMV process. Once foreign nationals are registered in vehicle department transactions or through social service agency registration, the NVRA limits what election officials can do about the problem. Even individuals registered outside of DMVs are still affected by the NVRA’s requirements for voter registration.

Problems with Motor Voter that impair the ability of election officials to remove aliens from voter rolls include:

  • The federal voter registration requires no documentary proof of U.S. citizenship. Instead, the applicant is asked to attest to citizenship and age simply by checking a box next to the word “Yes.” This is essentially an honor system.
  • The federal voter registration form does not require full Social Security numbers, making it impossible to use E-Verify to find illegal immigrants registered to vote.

  • Motor Voter’s language did not account for the need for DMVs to transmit citizenship verification data in driver licensing transactions, even in the age of REAL ID. Essentially, this means that DMV customers may not update their immigration statuses in their driver records after naturalization.

North Carolina’s audit illustrates that the SAVE Database is a viable tool for election officials to determine citizenship. 

“North Carolina’s experience makes clear how some of Motor Voter’s aging provisions are allowing foreign interference in our elections by causing foreign nationals to get registered to vote,” said PILF President, J. Christian Adams. “Then, the law’s provisions create roadblocks for election officials to correct the record. Congress must modernize Motor Voter. The best way to celebrate 30 years of the National Voter Registration Act is to make sure it serves everyone in America – especially those among us who cannot yet vote.”

Today, PILF President, J. Christian Adams, submitted written testimony to the North Carolina House Oversight and Reform Committee on this along with North Carolina’s problems with removing deceased registrants and accepting ballots that arrive after Election Day.

For nearly a decade, PILF has harvested government records of non-citizen voter cancellation reports generated by local officials. These studies were carried out in places like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Nevada, California, Texas, and sanctuary cities across the nation. PILF has brought and won federal trial and appellate court cases in North CarolinaPennsylvania, and Texas to secure access to records relating to foreign nationals registering and voting.

Read the full report here.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is the nation’s only public interest law firm dedicated wholly to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. PILF has brought lawsuits and won victories in Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and across the United States.


For media inquiries, please reach out to

Public Interest Legal Foundation