Judge's race in limbo until Nov. 29

Staff WriterNovember 5, 2010 

— Turns out the instant runoff in this year's state Court of Appeals election isn't so instant.

Voters must wait a month or more to learn the winner of the 13-way race for a seat on the court. Cressie Thigpen and Doug McCullough got the most votes and are automatically contenders in the runoff.

Counties will begin to tabulate the results of the runoff Nov. 29. State Board of Elections officials expect the results to be known that week.

The state used the instant runoff method in several contests for the first time this year; they hoped to avoid the cost and hassle of a primary and runoff for offices that came available so close to elections. Court of Appeals Judge James Wynn resigned in August to accept a nomination to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Here's how it worked: Voters ranked their top three choices for Court of Appeals judge. On Tuesday, counties tabulated results from the first column. Thigpen, with about 20 percent, and McCullough, with about 15 percent, received the most votes.

At the end of the month, counties will count the votes Thigpen and McCullough received as voters' second and third choices. Those will be added to votes from the first column. Whoever gets the most votes wins.

Gov. Bev Perdue appointed Thigpen to fill in for Wynn until the election. McCullough is a former Court of Appeals judge.

Elected to the Court of Appeals on Tuesday were: Judge Ann Marie Calabria, Judge Rick Elmore, Judge Sanford Steelman and Judge Martha Geer. Each was an incumbent. Steelman was unopposed. Barbara Jackson edged out Robert C. "Bob" Hunter for a seat on the N.C. Supreme Court.

mandy.locke@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8927

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