Local Politics

Cary Chosen to Test New Voting Method for Runoffs

Posted October 2, 2007 6:38 p.m. EDT
Updated October 2, 2007 7:04 p.m. EDT

— Wake County's elections officials have chosen the town of Cary as a test site for "instant runoff voting" that will allow voters to mark their first, second and third choice in a race in the event a runoff election is needed.

Only votes in the first column of the ballot are tallied on election night. If no one were to get a majority of votes, that would mean an instant runoff between the top two candidates.

"When we hand-sort those ballots, all the votes that were cast for the top two vote-getters are set aside, because those have already been counted," Cherie Poucher, with the Wake County Board of Elections, said.

Elections officials will then look at the second choices on the ballots cast for candidates who are now out of the race. Any marked for the top two is added to the election night total.

The winner gets a majority vote without a separate election.

Elections officials say by eliminating the need for a traditional runoff election, the town of Cary will save more than $60,000 and save voters a trip to the polls.

Voters in Hendersonville will also use the instant runoff voting method in November, and the North Carolina Board of Elections will evaluate how well it worked and report to lawmakers.

In Wake County, only Raleigh, Cary and the Board of Education races require a majority vote to win, which can lead to a runoff. Other towns use the plurality form of election in which the candidate with the most votes on Election Day wins.