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Nov 12

2020 Election: County Commissioner Results

Posted on November 12, 2020 at 3:23 PM by Paige Worsham

Voter turnout in the general election exceeded 74% in North Carolina, surpassing 69% voter turnout in 2016. The NC State Board of Elections posts unofficial election results as soon as possible on its website. Mail-in absentee ballots postmarked by election day are accepted through November 12. Provisional ballots will also be reviewed. County canvass meetings are held on or before November 13 and the State Board of Elections will meet on November 24 to certify election results. Unofficial results are subject to change based on these factors and until certified. Appointments will also change the demographics data.

There were 308 county commissioner seats up for election this year, and about one-third of those seats were already decided before November 3 based on primary election results and appointments. Analyzing unofficial results, almost 20% of all county commissioners will be new, mirroring the number of new commissioners in 2016.

Here’s an overview of the election results for County Commissioner races:
  • 105 new Commissioners were elected or appointed. At 18% of the total 587 seats, this proportion mirrors 2016 results, when 107 new commissioners were elected.
  • This figure does not include the approximately twelve commissioners appointed to seats since the 2018 election and reelected as incumbents. 

New Comms 2020

Several current or former county commissioners won election this year to the N.C. General Assembly:
  • Bertie County Comm. Ernestine Bazemore (N.C. Senate, District 3)
  • Alamance County Comm. Amy Galey (N.C. Senate, District 24)
  • Former Craven County Comm. Steve Tyson (N.C. House, District 3)
  • Former Wake County Comm. Abe Jones (N.C. House, District 38)
  • Former Cumberland County Comm. Diane Wheatley (N.C. House, District 43) 
  • Harnett County Comm. Howard Penny (N.C. House, District 53)
  • Richmond County Comm. Ben Moss (N.C. House, District 66)
  • Former Davidson County Comm. Sam Watford (N.C. House, District 80)
  • Former Buncombe County Comm. Tim Moffitt (N.C. House, District 117)
  • Haywood County Comm. Mark Pless (N.C. House, District 118) 
  • Macon County Comm. Karl Gillespie (N.C. House, District 120)
The legislative county caucus includes additional members already serving in the N.C. General Assembly, with some members moving next session from N.C. House of Representatives to the N.C. Senate. And two former legislators, Jonathan Jordan and Austin Allran, will now serve as Ashe County and Catawba County commissioners, respectively.

Board Composition
Republican commissioners hold a majority on 61 county boards, representing about 49% of the state’s population. Democratic commissioners hold a majority on 37 boards, representing almost 51% of the state’s population. Two boards are split evenly between political parties. Representation by an Unaffiliated or other party candidate has held steady at 1% of the county commissioner seats for the past ten years.

Women now hold 22% of the seats, up from 17% two years ago. Durham County elected an all-female county board, likely a first in North Carolina history. County commissioner boards are becoming slightly more diverse, with more Black, Latino, and Asian commissioners elected. See more demographic data here.

Six Boards changed majority control:
  • Caswell County (from Democrat to Republican)
  • Franklin County (from Democrat to Republican)
  • Guilford County (from Republican to Democrat)
  • Lee County (from Democrat to Republican)
  • Montgomery County (from Democrat to Republican)
  • Richmond County (from Democrat to Republican) 

Local Referenda
Voters in 21 counties saw referenda on the general election ballot, including 5 counties with a quarter-cent sales tax question.
  • A referendum to levy an additional quarter-cent local option sales & use tax (authorized under Article 46 of GS Chapter 105) appeared on the ballot in 5 counties. The ballot measure did not pass in any of the counties.
  • Voters in Camden, Carteret, Guilford, Jackson, and Lee counties approved bonds for schools and parks and recreation. Voters also approved public housing, transportation, and improvement bonds in Raleigh and Charlotte.