Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement vice chairman Joshua Malcolm as chair following Andy Penry’s resignation.
The Washington Post was the first to report Penry’s separation from the Board, which occurred after the state Republican Party complained about his tweets — several of which were reported to be highly critical of President Donald Trump. His departure also comes as the State Board continues to investigate alleged voter fraud in the 9th congressional district race.
“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,” Penry wrote in the statement published by the Post. “I will not allow myself to be used as an instrument of distraction in this investigation.”
Cooper’s Office confirmed Monday that he was appointing Malcolm to the vacant chair position and stated that he planned to announce an appointment to the subsequent vacancy within a day.
“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 news release.
Malcolm, a Democratic member of the State Board, is from Pembroke. He is the chief legal officer, general counsel and assistant secretary to the UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees. He also serves as a justice on the Supreme Court of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
Cooper chose Robert Cordle, a retired attorney who previously served on the State Board, to replace Malcolm.
Cordle was nominated by Democratic Party chairman Wayne Goodwin, along with Greg Flynn, who serves on the Wake County Board of Elections.
“Robert Cordle has a proven record of service on the State Board of Elections, putting aside party affiliation to hold elected leaders accountable,” Cooper stated. “I appreciate their service to our state.”
The State Board’s future is currently up in the air. A three-judge panel ruled the nine-member structure of the Board unconstitutional, and it was set to dissolve today but the court granted a two-week extension as the board continues to investigate voter fraud. See the full order below.
A spokesman for the State Board has not returned several emails seeking comment about what will happen to the agency.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect responses from Cooper.