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Primary election recounts this week will decide winners across WNC

Campaigning continues as candidates ask voters to turn out for run off elections on July 26th.
Lilly Knoepp
Campaigning continues as candidates ask voters to turn out for run off elections on July 26th.

This story has been updated with the recount results.

While many races were called on primary election night, results are still being finalized by the North Carolina Board of Elections.

There are also recounts and runoffs happening across Western North Carolina.

In Buncombe County – a tie between the Republican candidates for the 115th House District seat triggered an automatic recount. Candidates Pratik Bhakta and Sherry Higgins both received 3,145 votes. The winner will take on Democratic candidate Lindsey Prather in the November general election.

The other recount in Buncombe County was requested by the runner-up in the Democratic primary race for District Attorney. Just 101 votes separate challenger Courtney Booth and incumbent Todd Williams.

Both recounts were held Wednesday morning in Asheville.

In Macon County, the Board of Elections will be holding a recount in the sheriff’s race on Thursday.

Republican Dereck Jones, who was the second highest vote getter requested the recount after coming in just 54 votes behind Brent Holbrooks. The recount will be held at the community building in Franklin. All six candidates in the race were republicans so this will decide the new sheriff in Macon County.

Update: Macon County Board of Election director says that after completion of canvass today there was no net change. Brent Holbrooks was declared the winner with 52 votes between them.

The primary election canvass in Macon was not completed on Friday May 27th as scheduled because another Sheriff candidate Bob Cook has filed a protest. On election night, Cook won 10 percent of the vote.

The protest was filed because of an error in the election software which incorrectly counted the ballots in the final tally.

John Noce a security and support technician for NC Board of Elections in Western North Carolina explains.

“On election night it was reporting over 9,800 and then when we made the correction that number dropped so that raised some eyebrows,” said Noce.

Noce says he noticed the same issue in Graham County after the primary and then realized it had happened in Macon too. Swain County also used the same software but did not have an issue.

The software issue was resolved over the weekend and the votes were not impacted, says Noce.

Noce wants to remind voters that the election results are not final on election night. Issues like this are why the results are double checked before being finalized.

“So in that 10 days during the canvass period is when we do all the research and discover things like this,” said Noce.

Macon County Board of Elections has since dismissed the protest and finalized the primary results. The state board of election will be conducting its canvass period next week to finalize the over-arching totals.

There are two runoff elections currently scheduled in the region. Jackson County voters will need to turn out to choose one school board seat between Lisa R. Buchanan and incumbent Abigail Clayton.

Incumbent Graham County Sheriff Jerry Crisp also faces arunoff after just four votes separated him from candidate Russell Moody on primary election night.

Both races will be on July 26th.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.