Incumbent Mark Chilton rode an early lead Tuesday night to secure a third term in the Orange County Register of Deeds race.
Chilton had 64.41% of the unofficial voting results at 10:20 p.m., compared with 35.59% for his opponent, former Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich. All 40 precincts had reported results.
Nearly 15,000 ballots were cast during the early voting period this year, Board of Elections officials reported. This was Chilton’s first challenge since his election to the office in 2014.
Since then, Chilton, an attorney and real estate professional, has modernized the office and preserved thousands of pages of handwritten records, including about the county’s enslaved and free people of color. The Register of Deeds office is primarily tasked with preserving vital records, such as birth and death certificates, issuing marriage licenses, and recording land sales and documents.
Rich, a personal chef, caterer, and consultant to a women’s food collective, ran on a platform of further modernization, with the goal of improving the office’s management and level of service.
Orange County’s Register of Deeds earns $95,673 a year, according to The News & Observer’s public employees database. The winner of the May primary is expected to be elected in November, because there are no Republicans seeking the office.