An unofficial tally of results on election night, Nov. 6, showed Merrill with a lead, but it was erased in subsequent tallies when a number of provisional ballots cast by residents of the left-leaning Warren Wilson College were added. A Dec. 7 hand recount of all the District 2 ballots showed Ellen Frost with a 18 vote win, giving Democrats a 4-3 majority of the board's seats.
On Nov. 28, the Buncombe County Board of Elections voted 2-1 along party lines to deny Merrill's request to discount the ballots of Warren Wilson residents from the District 2 race.
The bipartisan North Carolina Board of Elections voted unanimously Dec. 13 to dismiss Merrill's charges that local elections officials violated any laws in counting the ballots of Warren Wilson students.
However, even as the election results were subsequently certified and the board has proceeded with carrying out county business, Merrill said she'd continue fighting the outcome in court – up until now.
"In the face of ever increasing county spending, higher property taxes and corporate welfare, I will now focus my efforts on running for County Commissioner in 2014," she writes in a press release.
Frost, the only incumbent up for reelection in District 2 next year, hasn't announced if she plans to seek another term.
Here's the full press release from Merrill:
(Asheville, NC) Candidate for Buncombe County Commission, Christina G. Merrill, withdraws election case pending before the North Carolina Superior Court.
Christina Merrill states:
It is with great care and concern that I make this decision. I have made a successful and effective effort to shine a light on the practice of voter fraud in Buncombe County. This includes the egregious manipulation of college students and the abuse of "provisional voting.”
Many Buncombe County citizens are keenly aware of the questionable events that took place in District 2 last fall, and I am proud to have been able to stand up for the nearly 20,000 voters who supported me on November 6th. It is unfortunate and continues to be concerning that a handful of individuals affected the outcome of the election with such questionable practices.
Our team has accomplished much since November. Strong election law legislation has progressed in the North Carolina General Assembly and additional measures are under debate and consideration. Every single valid vote should be counted and every eligible voter given an equal opportunity to vote. However, invalid votes, duplicate votes and votes cast by ineligible persons should never be permitted to cancel out the valid ballots of others.
My goal was and always has been to shed light on the questionable practices that impact the integrity of our election process and seek fair solutions to these problems for the sake of all of our citizens. While I believe that our court challenge would eventually prevail, it has always been my position to move forward in the most fiscally conservative way possible for our county. Given our successes in the legislature, and the short 2 year term of this district-2 seat, it is fiscally prudent to withdraw the case at this time. It is very unfortunate that pursuing justice in the courts over the election discrepancies would add to the burden of our taxpayers.
In the face of ever increasing county spending, higher property taxes and corporate welfare, I will now focus my efforts on running for County Commissioner in 2014.