WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) – North Carolina’s elections board voted on Thursday to remove a local elections chairman who was accused of making racially disparaging comments on social media, the first time the state board has booted an official over online posts.

In a 3-2 vote, board members determined that Rowan County elections chairman Malcolm “Mac” Butner’s posts were offensive and made him unfit to be the face of his community’s elections, said state board spokesman Josh Lawson.

“They believed that Butner’s actions, even though most of them were prior to his taking office, eroded public confidence in the administration of elections,” Lawson said.

Butner had praised the Confederacy in Facebook posts and suggested people protesting against Republican policies in the state were unemployed blacks who were not “productive good citizens” like whites, according to local media.

He also used social media to show support for certain candidates and office holders, a violation of state law for an elections official, Lawson said.

Butner defended himself in a letter to the board but, citing health issues, said he could not offer as detailed a response to the allegations as he wished.

“Since my appointment to the Rowan County Board of Elections, I have not violated any parameter or law regarding my conduct as a board member or chairman of my board,” he said.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Eric Beech)

Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.