North Carolina’s first statewide instant-runoff race finally has a winner. Judge Doug McCullough, who formerly served on the Court of Appeals from 2001 to 2008, edged current Judge Cressie Thigpen by a mere 0.62 percent in the recount of the IRV tally of second- and third-place voter choices. Thigpen, who originally led by some 100,000 votes in the general election’s first-place tally, lost ground in the second-round IRV count and requested a recount. He conceded the race yesterday when the unofficial third-round results showed ballot totals of 543,980 to 537,325.
In Buncombe County, the recount tally gave Thigpen 17,812 to McCullough’s 13,008. According to the Buncombe County Board of Elections’ Ben Bryson, the third-round inspection gave each candidate between 20 and 30 additional votes. North Carolina became the first state to use the IRV ballot-ranking method when 13 candidates filed for the Court of Appeals seat that became available too late for a statewide primary. (For additional information on the race, see “Close Call.”)
In a media advisory today, election-reform think tank FairVote reported that North Carolina State Board of Elections director Gary Bartlett said there were no major problems with the IRV count and that the new method gave voters a chance to participate in picking the winner. “Whether you like it or not, it worked,” he was quoted as saying.
— Nelda Holder, freelance for Xpress