Every vote counts: Razor-thin margins decide these 3 Mecklenburg County elections

Tariq Bokhari speaks to the media after winning the race for Charlotte City Council’s District 6 seat at Selwyn Pub in Charlotte, NC on November 7, 2023.

The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections on Friday settled three close elections, with one result changing from election night 10 days ago.

Races in Charlotte and Cornelius ended with the same candidate on top — Republican Tariq Bokhari in Charlotte and Mayor Woody Washam in Cornelius. Outstanding votes broke a tie between two candidates for a final spot on the Pineville Town Council, with Danielle A. Moore receiving three more votes than Eric Fransen’s 624.

The District 6 Charlotte City Council race ended with Bokhari receiving 11,727 votes to Democratic challenger Stephanie Hand’s 11,413. That 314-vote margin is 38 votes narrower than the count on election night, but it’s outside the margin for a recount and guaranteed Bokhari a second-round win in the rematch of a close 2022 election.

On election night, Bokhari said he was “up against stiff odds” and that he “pulled it off” despite District 6 Republicans falling third in registered voters behind unaffiliateds and Democrats.

Hand congratulated Bokhari on his District 6 win in a Friday interview with The Charlotte Observer and conceded in a message sent to voters. She said her next public policy priority will be to advocate for a crosswalk in the Pine Valley area. Hand said she plans to be “active and engaged” and “then discern and the people will help me decide what’s next.”

Hand also addressed questions about her job history raised by Bokhari’s campaign in the days just before the election. The Republican councilman seized on comments made by Hand during WFAE’s Charlotte Talks program that she “ran airports.” Bokhari claimed Hand misrepresented herself.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Election Day, Bokhari wrote, “You can’t tell voters for 2 months straight you ran the airport, when addressing the reasons why you can solve our transit problems, when your scope was food and retail.”

Hand, who avoided directly addressing the criticism in the campaign’s final hours, told the Observer Friday she was an operations manager and a general manager “for a Fortune 500 company.” That company is HMS Host, which employs food service workers at Charlotte Douglas International and other airports.

“I’ll work even harder to be even clearer about my executive-level experience,” Hand said.

She said it was unclear whether Bokhari’s 11th-hour criticism was the reason her early voting lead evaporated as more Election Day votes came in.

Pineville and Cornelius elections

After its canvas, the Board of Elections conducted recounts in Pineville and Cornelius, where two races ended just a few votes apart. Those recounts didn’t change results from the canvas.

Washam said he’s grateful for the support he received during the campaign and to win another Cornelius mayoral term. The five-vote margin is the closest of his campaigns for mayor because it’s the first time he’s seen opposition.

Washam acknowledged voters are frustrated in Cornelius about transportation issues and that likely played a role in his close race against challenger Denis Bilodeau.

“I haven’t really voted on things like that one way or the other as the mayor, but at the same time, the buck stops with the mayor,” Washam said.

Write in candidates

The board’s canvas process also produced verified write-ins. That excludes names such as religious figures or fictional characters.

Write-ins for Charlotte mayor included: five votes for Ken May; four votes for outgoing City Council member Braxton Winston; and one vote for former Mayor Jennifer Roberts.

Write-ins for Charlotte City Council included:

22 votes for Pat McCrory in the at-large race

16 votes for Larken Egleston in the at-large race and four more in District 1

15 votes for Kenny Smith in the at-large race

12 votes for Matthew Ridenhour in the at-large race

Nine votes for Jeff Jackson in District 7

Eight votes for Ty McBride in the at-large race

Eight votes for David Merrill in the at-large race

Seven votes for Michael Johnson in the at-large race

Six votes for Paul Davidson in the at-large race

Five votes for Charlie Mulligan in the at-large race

Five votes for Andy Dulin in the at-large race

Four votes for Billy Maddalon in District 1

Four votes for Ken May in the at-large race

Three votes for Patrick Cannon in the at-large race

Three votes for Jennifer Roberts in the at-large race

Three votes for Julie Eiselt in the at-large race

One vote for Edwin Peacock in the at-large race