N.C. Board of Elections chairman stepping down

Josh Howard, State Board of Election

Josh Howard, State Board of Election

RALEIGH — Josh Howard announced Tuesday morning that he is leaving his post as chairman of the State Board of Elections, effective Jan. 1, 2016. Howard, a Republican, was appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory to a four-year term on the bi-partisan board, which would have ended in May 2017.

The NCSBE is tasked with overseeing elections administration and enforces campaign finance law. Howard did not publicly give a reason for his departure.

“We were bipartisan 99 percent of the time, and that sets a tone not just for our staff and the folks watching here in Raleigh, but across the state,” said Howard. “I regret that I need to step aside now, but I am thrilled and proud of what we have done here.”

Statute directs that the governor selects a replacement board member from a list of three nominees to serve the remainder of Howard’s term. N.C. Republican Party Chairman Hasan Harnett submits the three nominations.

“Howard’s measured leadership has supported our agency during a critical time for elections in this state,” said Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach. “From investigations to wide-ranging reforms and litigation, Howard preserved the State Board’s independence and built bi-partisan consensus.”

Howard is a founding partner at the Raleigh law firm of Gammon, Howard and Zeszotarski. Prior to his work in the private sector, Howard led the white-collar crime section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and served in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Office of the Independent Counsel and the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy.

“Throughout my service in the military and in state government over the past 12 years, I have worked with few individuals who have so thoughtfully served their constituents — in this case, the voters of North Carolina,” said board member Joshua Malcolm, a Democrat. “I have found Josh Howard is a man of deepest integrity. Though appointed through a partisan process, our board under Howard’s leadership has carried out its responsibilities in a manner beyond reproach.”