RALEIGH – Within the many moving parts of the 9th District Saga, former State Board of Elections member Joshua Malcolm, a Democrat elevated to chair position by Gov. Roy Cooper, was a source of concern for those interested in transparent, partisan free investigations. According to the Charlotte Observer, Malcolm will not serve on the Board when it is reconstituted later this month.
It was Malcolm who first made the motion to not certify the results of the 9th District Congressional race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. Before doing so, Malcolm, who was vice chair at the time, suggested that he had been well aware of ‘unfortunate activities’ in his part of the state for quite some time.
Observers were left to wonder how long he was aware of said activities, because he never brought the issue before the body he served in which is has a very serious duty to make sure elections are free from any sort of chicanery. Further, Malcolm was caught carrying secret communications with a central figure in the fraud allegations focused on Bladen County. Text messages and phone calls between Malcolm and Bladen County Democrat Jens Lutz indicated they were communicating int he weeks and days before the election, and afterward, about the 9th District race.
Malcolm never reported the communications to the Board, even when formally asked to divulge any conflicts that may relate to the 9th District probe. He attempted to stiff reporters seeking the public records, only submitting the full record of communications when the Board itself was threatened with attorneys getting involved.
This does not speak well of a person in charge of overseeing elections in a fair, non-partisan, transparent manner. So, Republicans justifiably argued that he should not be part of any investigation, unless it was as a witness.
Having some time off for self-reflection, it seems Malcolm has come to understasnd just how conflicted his service would be in a future Board.
From the Charlotte Observer:
“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 chairs of both state parties are recommending members to a new 5-member board. Republicans Wednesday recommended four members for two seats. Democrats will recommend six people for three seats.
Malcolm, a Robeson County Democrat, won’t be one of them.
Malcom had come under increasing fire from Republicans. They said his unreported conversations with Jens Lutz, a former elections board member from Bladen County, were suspicious.
His decision not to serve on a new board, was “the obvious result of the debacle that Malcolm kicked off in the most untransparent way,” Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the N.C. GOP, said Thursday.
“The people of North Carolina are certainly better without him on the board,” he added. “Now we have to clean up his mess.”[…]”
Whether Malcolm came to these conclusions on his own, or Gov. Roy Cooper recognized the political risks of reappointing him, his absence will be a positive for the integrity of the investigation and its conclusion.
Now 9th District voters will wait for the new Board to be selected from the nominees Republicans and Democrats have put forth. With any luck, Cooper will make selections that imbue integrity, transparency, and objectivity; the 9th District Saga cannot fairly be concluded with anything less.
Read about Malcolm and his role in the probe from the Charlotte Observer here.