RALEIGH, N.C. — Democrat Britt Cobb conceded the election of state agriculture commissioner Friday morning just as the State Board of Elections was starting a meeting to try to resolve the lingering election.
The Board of Elections then certified the vote for Republican Steve Troxler as agriculture commissioner.
"It's such a great relief for this to be over with. I do commend Commissioner Cobb for the dignified way he ended this, and I think it will enable us to go through a smooth transition now," Troxler said.
The issue that was before the board Friday dated back to the November 2004 elections, during which more than 4,400 ballots did not get counted in a machine in Carteret County.
Back in November, Republican Steve Troxler had a 2,300-vote lead over incumbent Democrat Britt Cobb.
Initially, the state board of elections wanted people whose vote didn't count -- and those who didn't vote in Carteret County the November elections -- to recast their votes.
But, a judge struck that idea down. The next plan for a statewide election was also rejected by a judge on Jan. 12.
Troxler had collected affidavits from voters in Carteret County, who said they voted for him. Cobb said he conceded so that the affidavits would not be used.
"It has become clear that one person can help the state avoid the terrible precedent of settling elections by affidavit, and that person is me," Cobb said in a statement. "By ending my contest of this election, I hope to enable the Board to certify Mr. Troxler without resort to the affidavits, and to enable the General Assembly to reform our election laws to prevent a situation like this from occurring in the future."
Gov. Mike Easley thanked Cobb for his 18 months as agriculture commissioner and said that he welcomed Troxler in the post. But the governor said he was still concerned about the process.
"... I remain concerned about the fact that the state's election process seems unable to resolve the problems that existed in this race," Easley said. "We must find a solution to fix the obvious flaws in the system. I will look to both Steve and Britt for their input on answers to fixing the process going forward."
There is no word yet on when Troxler will be sworn in, but the Guilford County Republican Party is not wasting any time. Right after Cobb's announcement, they handed out invitations to a black tie dinner in honor of the new commissioner-elect.