News: Quick Takes

GOP submits nominees for elections board; Malcolm won’t be a Dem pick

Joshua Malcolm, former chairman of the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. (CJ file photo)
Joshua Malcolm, former chairman of the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. (CJ file photo)

[UPDATED 4:15 p.m. to include Democratic nominees.]

The N.C. Republican Party has submitted a list of four nominees for the new State Board of Elections, from which Gov. Roy Cooper will select two. The N.C. Democratic Party offered its list Thursday afternoon, and one prominent name won’t be among its four nominees.

Former elections board chairman Joshua Malcolm, whose role in the Mark Harris-Dan McCready 9th U.S. Congressional District election has raised questions, told the Charlotte Observer Thursday he won’t ask to take one of the three Democratic seats on the new board.

“In my opinion it’s the best decision for the State Board of Elections and for me personally that I have decided that I’m not going to serve,” Malcolm told the Observer.

The new five-member board set to be named Jan. 31 is expected to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether GOP Rep.-elect Harris will be certified the winner. He leads Democrat McCready by 905 votes, but questions about absentee mail-in ballot irregularities clouded the outcome (see Carolina Journal stories here).

An ongoing investigation has delayed certification in the race. Harris attempted to get a judge to order his certification, but Tuesday was rebuffed in court.

Malcolm made the motion for the previous elections board not to certify Harris’ win, and to seek an investigation. The elections board has named Leslie McCrae Dowless, a Harris campaign worker, as a person of interest in the investigation into whether Dowless and others working for him unlawfully collected absentee ballots, filled some in for Harris, and trashed others already checked for McCready.

There are allegations the Bladen County Improvement Association or others conducted similar efforts for McCready. All have denied any wrongdoing.

State Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, House Rules Committee chairman, and Sen. Dan Bishop, R-Mecklenburg, Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee chairman, released a joint statement Thursday.

Among the issues lawmakers raised was the governor’s refusal to respond to a request they made in December to form an independent task force to investigate allegations of voting shenanigans dating back several election cycles.

“Cooper can still do the right thing and work with the legislature on a bipartisan, transparent investigation into the years of election fraud in Bladen County that implicates both parties. Why he refuses to do so is beyond us,” they said.

The Republican Party on Wednesday nominated Francis DeLuca, Eldon “Buck” Newton III, Stacey “Four” Eggers IV, and Eddie Woodhouse for elections board seats based on their extensive experience in election law and administration, and records of prior public service.

Eggers, an attorney, was a member of the elections board that was dissolved by court order late in December because of its unconstitutional framework. Woodhouse is a previous chairman of the Wake County Board of Elections and is a cousin of Dallas Woodhouse, the Republican Party’s executive director. DeLuca is former president of the Civitas Institute and a member of the former State Ethics Commission. Newton, a lawyer, is a former state senator who unsuccessfully ran for attorney general in 2016.

Attempts to get an update on N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin’s six nominations were unsuccessful. Cooper will appoint three of them.

UPDATE: Thursday afternoon, Goodwin sent a list of only four nominees to the governor. N.C. Policy Watch published a copy of the letter Goodwin sent to Cooper. Three of the four, Stella Anderson, Robert Cordle, and Valerie Johnson, served on the previous elections/ethics board. The other nominee is Wake County elections board member Greg Flynn.