JLF Western N.C. Blog

How Buncombe’s Close Race Emerged from Canvass

To recap:

  • Representative Tim Moffitt spearheaded legislation that changed the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners from a five-seat to a seven-seat body. He also divided the county into districts. Republicans had long believed district elections would weaken Democrat control.
  • Republican redistricters split the very liberal Warren Wilson College campus into two districts.
  • Since the splitting of Warren Wilson was not advertised, and everybody there has the same address, many students and staff members had to vote by provisional ballot once the problem was discovered.

    During early voting, 38 Warren Wilson residents got the wrong ballot. Another 15 got the wrong absentee ballot. Election officials issued new ballots, but of the 38 who voted early, just 16 returned the new ballot. For those who didn’t return the new, correct ballot, the original ballots were partially counted, without the commission race.

  • Republicans won four of the seats on the new, seven-seat board; but in one district, there were only a few votes between the highest and the lowest vote-getter.
  • Following the counting of provisional ballots, Ellen Frost (D) was determined to outshine Christina Kelly G. Merrill (R) by only thirteen votes. This handed the 4-3 majority to the Democrats.

Merrill will now demand a recount and may challenge the results on the basis that some of the Warren Wilson kids still may have belonged in the other disrict.

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