ADVERTISEMENT

After deadlock, Bhakta gains vote to win NC House primary

June 4, 2022 GMT

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A western North Carolina hotelier has won a state House primary after gaining one vote in a hand recount, when previous tallies had showed him and his fellow Republican rival tied.

Pratik Bhakta earned the GOP nomination Friday over Sherry Higgins after the Buncombe County Board of Elections certified results in the 115th House District that gave Bhakta the most votes, elections director Corinne Duncan said.

The certification means Bhakta is set to take on Democratic candidate Lindsey Prather in the November general election.

The canvass of in-person, traditional absentee and provisional ballots for the May 17 primary had showed Bhakta and Higgins each with 3,145 votes, leading to a mandatory recount that started Wednesday.

The deadlock remained when ballots first were run through counting machines, but the hand recount by a four-person team revealed a ballot in which the voter’s choice could not be clearly determined, Duncan said. The county board examined the ballot and decided it was a vote for Bhakta, she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

If the election had remained tied after the recount, Bhakta and Higgins would have participated in a July 26 runoff.

“We are thankful for everyone who came out to support, vote, volunteer and engage in the democratic process!” Bhakta said in a statement provided to media outlets. “This is truly the case where every single vote mattered.”

Higgins, a certified public accountant in Arden, said in a statement that while she was “obviously disappointed with the final result, I’m beyond thankful for all of the support that I have received from the community during this election.”