NC voters will use IRV ballot

Published 11:29 am Friday, September 24, 2010

Voters in the Roanoke-Chowan area, as well as throughout the state, will notice something very unique on their Nov. 2 General Election ballot.

Due to the circumstances involving the resignation of Judge James A. Wynn Jr. from the NC Court of Appeals, voters will cast their ballots for his replacement. However, this is not a typical “mark your one favorite candidate” type of balloting.

Thirteen individuals have filed for Judge Wynn’s seat, thus making it unlikely there will be a clear cut winner (a single person receiving more than 50 percent of the votes) from that large field of candidates.

N. C. General Statute # 163-329 directs the State Board of Elections to conduct Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) if a vacancy is created in the appellate judicial offices under certain conditions.

This method of voting combines the Primary and General Election into one round of balloting. Voters will select their 1st choice just like every other contest on the ballot, but they also rank their 2nd or 3rd choices in the event the initial results do not produce a majority winner, one receiving more than 50 percent of the votes cast.

The voters’ first choices are tallied and are reported unofficially on Election Night. If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes then they are certified as the winner at Canvass and no further counting is necessary.

If no candidate receives enough first choice votes to reach the majority threshold (more than 50%), the top two candidates move to the instant runoff. The winner is determined by adding the highest ranked second or third choice vote to his/her initial vote totals. The candidate with the most votes in the second round wins the election.

If a voter’s first choice candidate is not in the runoff, a second choice vote for either of the two runoff candidates will be counted. Third choice votes for either runoff candidate will be counted only if the voter’s first or second choice candidate is not in the runoff. After all counting is concluded, the candidate with the most first and second round total votes wins the election.

It must be noted that the NC Appeals Court balloting for Judge Wynn’s seat is the only one using the IRV method. There are head-to-head contests on the ballot involving Court of Appeals candidates Ann Marie Calabria vs. Jane Gray; Rick Elmore vs. Stephen Walker; and Martha Geer vs. Dean R. Poirier. Sanford Steelman Jr. is running unopposed.

Those currently not registered to vote have until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8 to sign-up for the Nov. 2 General Election.

One-Stop voting begins statewide on Thursday, Oct. 14.

Another deadline of interest is Tuesday, Oct. 26. That is the final day to request, in writing, a mail-in absentee ballot.

For more information, please contact the North Carolina State Board of Elections by phone, 1-866-522-4723 or 919-733-7173, visit the State elections website,, or contact your county board of elections.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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