RALEIGH – North Carolinians will get a unique voting experience when they head to the polls this year. For the first time in state history, there will be an "instant runoff" ballot for voters to select a judge for the Court of Appeals
“They list their first favorite choice, and if they choose, they can have their second favorite choice,” says Gary Bartlett with the NC Board of Elections, “and their third. But only one vote will count.”
This is essentially, a primary and a general election in this race on the same day. Right now, there are 13 candidates vying for the spot, and in case none of them get 50 percent plus one votes on election night, voters won't need to come back out to the polls.
“We will first count in the second round, all the second choices, then the third choices, add them together, along with the first round choices. And the candidate with the most votes wins,” says Bartlett.
Here's what Bartlett is talking about: If no one wins outright on election night, the top two candidates will advance. All of the ballots that picked those two candidates as their first choice will be set aside. Then the Board of Elections will count how many times these candidates were selected as a second choice and set those ballots aside. Finally, they count the same candidates selected as third choice. This way no ballot gets counted twice and as many voters as possible get their voices heard.
“It is instant for the voters, but it is not instant for the election officials that have to count it,” says Bartlett.
This sounds confusing, and Bartlett admits it might be. Political analysts say they are watching to see how it works.
“You know the question to me, as somebody who observes politics, is is it so complicated that it will affect the outcome?”questions political analyst David McLennan.
The instant runoff voting is being used this year because there was not enough time for a primary between the resignation of a Court of Appeals judge in August and election day in November