North Carolinians will get their first taste of instant-runoff voting on Nov. 2, when a 13-candidate field for the N.C. Court of Appeals appears on the statewide ballot. And according to an N.C. Bar Association report, this marks the first time nationally that the new form of voting will be used by a state.
A one-week special filing period for the seat of N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Jim Wynn, who moved to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ended on Aug. 31 with 13 candidates signing up — five of them on the last day.
And for Buncombe County voters, a second instant-runoff contest will be on the ballot due to the three-candidate contest for Superior Court judge, the result of a special late-filing period necessitated by Judge Dennis Winner’s retirement (for additional information, click here).
In an instant-runoff election, voters rank their top three candidates in order of preference. If a candidate wins a majority, she or he becomes the winner. If there is no majority — which may be the case in a 13-person race — then the top two candidates face a new round of counting, turning to the second- and third-place votes. According to the N.C. law: “Each ballot counts as a vote for whichever of the two final candidates is ranked highest by the voter. The candidate with the most votes in the second round wins the election.”
Instant-runoff candidates for Buncombe County’s District 28 Superior Court are local attorney Diane K. McDonald; attorney Heather Whitaker Goldstein, who is executive director of the Jewish Community Center in Asheville; and District Judge Marvin Pope. (A second Superior Court seat will be decided between Assistant District Attorney Kate Dreher and Judge Alan Thornburg, who won the May 4 primary.)
Candidates for the statewide instant runoff election to the Court of Appeals are: John F. Bloss of Greensboro, J. Wesley Casteen of Wilmington; Chris Dillon of Raleigh, Jewel Ann Farlow of Greensboro, Daniel E. Garner of Wake Forest, Stan Hammer of Greensboro, Mark E. Klass of Lexington, Doug McCullough of Atlantic Beach, Anne Middleton of Raleigh, Harry E. Payne Jr. of Raleigh, John Sullivan of Raleigh, Cressie Thigpen of Raleigh, and Pamela M. Vesper of Raleigh.