PEMBROKE — A Pembroke lawyer will be sworn in today as the first Robeson County resident and the first Lumbee Indian to serve on the state Board of Elections.
Joshua Malcolm is one of the two Democrats that Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed to the five-member board that is responsible for running elections and monitoring campaign finance reports across the state.
“I’m grateful for the confidence in me that the local and state Democratic Party has shown by recommending me for this position,” Malcolm said Tuesday. “… I will do my very best to uphold the responsibility of this position.”
The new appointments mark the first time in 20 years Republicans have made up the majority on the board. Governors traditionally appoint three members from their own political party and two from the opposing party to the five-member board. McCrory is a Republican.
When the board meets today in Raleigh, its members will inherit an investigation of possible campaign finance violations involving sweepstakes games operators. A bipartisan majority on the outgoing board reportedly told The Associated Press that there are questions about $235,000 in checks to McCrory and others from an indicted Oklahoma sweepstakes operator.
Malcolm has has been a member of the Robeson County Board of Elections since 2008, serving as the board’s chairman for four years. He is currently the general counsel for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, a position he will have held for five years on July 1, and is a former assistant general counsel at Fayetteville State University. Before obtaining his law degree, he served as a navigator for seven years in the U.S. Air Force.
Malcolm believes that his past experience in state government, education and the military, as well as his obtaining his law degree not directly out of college, may help him look at election issues in a different light than other members on the board.
“I think my experiences will all help give me a ‘unique perspective’ on things,” he said. “… I look forward to using my skills to analyze things. I’m a lawyer, but a common sense kind of guy.”
Malcolm said that the state Board of Elections is “unique” in its role to regulate campaign finance regulations and investigate allegations of campaign finance violations. It also plays an important role in solving election disputes at the county level.
“It’s important that all players play by the rules,” Malcolm said. “We have to make sure that all people have the opportunity to vote. We have to make sure that the state is not setting up barriers to people having the chance to vote.”
Malcolm said that he consulted UNCP Chancellor Kyle Carter about serving on the board and that the chancellor expressed his support.
Malcolm pointed out there is no pay.
“Because I am a state employee, I am not eligible to receive per diem compensation,” he said. “All I get for this is reimbursement for mileage and reimbursement for any overnight expenses while on board business.”
Malcolm, speaking of his time on the county Board of Elections, said he is proud of the expansion of “early voting” to include Sunday; consolidation of some voting sites; and moving some voting sites out of schools and relocating them in places more convenient for voters.
With his appointment to the state board, Malcolm must now give up his seat on the Robeson County Board of Elections. Remaining members on the board are Lisa Douglas, a Democrat, and Steve Stone, a Republican.
The local board, like all other county board of elections, will change on July 1. State law requires that the party of the governor control two seats on the three-member board and the minority party hold one seat.
The local county GOP and Democratic parties will submit recommendations for the county boards to their state organizations. Those recommendations will then be forwarded to McCrory for his final selection.