LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Democratic Party is submitting the names of Tiffany Powers of Lumberton and Kent Chavis of Maxton to the state Democratic Party for consideration as an interim replacement for Joshua Malcolm on the Robeson County Board of Elections.
The party choice must be approved by the state Board of Elections.
John McNeill, chairman of the county party, said this morning that he submitted the names Wednesday about 4 p.m. He said he did so after getting the consent of the party’s Executive Committee.
The request to fill the seat on the local board was made in a motion by Malcolm on Wednesday during his first meeting as a member of the state Board of Elections. Malcolm was recently appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory to serve as one of the two Democrats on the five-member state Board of Elections.
Powers has served previously on the Robeson County Board of Elections
Whoever is appointed to serve in Malcolm’s position will only serve until July, when a new board consisting of two Republicans and one Democrat will be appointed. By law, the party of the current governor gets two seats on each of the 100 county boards of elections, while the minority party gets one seat on each. McCrory is Republican.
Currently, Robeson County Board of Elections members are Lisa Douglas, a Democrat, and Steve Stone, a Republican. Stone, who has served on the board for about 10 years, is expected to remain on the board after July.
Phillip Stephens, the chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party, has declined to reveal the names that his party plans to submit for approval by the state Board of Elections. He said, however, Stone is likely to be at the top of the list.
“Steve tries to be really really fair. He knows the elections laws. I think the Democrats would nominate him for the board if they could,” Stephens said. “… But all I will say at this time is that the public will be very pleased with our nominations.”
Traditionally, the Robeson County Board of Elections has been racially diverse, consisting a white, black and American Indian. Douglas is black and Stone is white. Malcolm, who chaired the board the past four years, is a Lumbee Indian.
Stone said Wednesday that when the board becomes controlled by the GOP in July, he doesn’t anticipate major changes in the way the board operates.
“I don’t agree with those who say that when we (GOP) take over we are going to see the end of Sunday early voting or elimination of satellite polling sites for early voting,” Stone said. “If I’m still on the board I’m going to look at everything individually and do what is best for the voters.”
According to Stone, the local board’s biggest needs it finding money to hire at least one full-time clerk. There are currently only two full-time employees working in the elections office, including interim Director Tina Bledsoe.
“Tina is doing a fine job. It’s more important now that we get a clerk rather than a new director,” Stone said. “Maybe we will be able to do that when we get our new budget in July.”
The next time Robeson County voters go to the polls will be Nov. 5 when municipal elections are held. Filing for the municipal elections begins July 5 at noon.