Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday he has named Joshua Malcolm the new chairman of the state board of elections.
Andy Penry announced Saturday he was resigning effective immediately as chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. The Democrat resigned after he came under fire from Republicans for his posts on social media, including criticism of President Donald Trump.
Malcolm is a lawyer from Pembroke and a Democrat.
Cooper also appointed former board member Robert Cordle to the board’s vacant position on Monday afternoon. Cordle, who previously served on the board of elections until 2013, was selected from a list of nominees provided by the North Carolina Democratic Party, Cooper said in a release.
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“North Carolinians deserve to have confidence in our democratic process and as chair, Joshua Malcom’s leadership and experience will help ensure fair and honest elections,” Cooper said in a statement. “Robert Cordle has a proven record of service on the State Board of Elections, putting aside party affiliation to hold elected leaders accountable. I appreciate their service to our state.”
The state Republic Party criticized Cooper’s selection of Malcolm on the grounds that Malcolm is too partisan.
“Per usual, Governor Cooper takes a bad situation and makes it worse by continuing to erode confidence in the neutrality of the Board. Democrat Joshua Malcolm is the most partisan member of the NCSBE from either party,” Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement.
An investigation is ongoing into alleged voter fraud in this year’s election for the 9th Congressional District. When he resigned, Penry said in a statement: “The investigation of criminal conduct and absentee voting fraud in the 2018 Republican primary and 2018 general election in Congressional District 9 is a matter of vital importance to our democracy. The investigation should be free of attempts at distraction and obstruction so that the truth can be revealed. I will not allow myself to be used as an instrument of distraction in this investigation.”
Meanwhile, the fate of the board is unclear. A panel of three judges ruled the nine-member board unconstitutional, but a court ruling Friday allows the board to stay in place in its current form until Dec. 12. Negotiations are underway between the governor’s office and the legislature to find a solution on the composition of the board, The News & Observer reported last week.