Raleigh, NC -- In a ruling that will resolve one of the nation's last outstanding political races of 2004, the state Supreme Court on Friday removed a stay that will allow a Guilford County commissioner to finally take his seat. The decision ends an 18-month old challenge by Republican Trudy Wade that wove its way through the courts and election boards with Wade protesting the counting of some provisional ballots. Without the contested ballots, Wade would have beaten challenger John Parks. The State Board of Elections and a trial court judge last year declared Parks the winner by 90 votes over Wade. In December, the state Supreme Court granted a temporary stay that prevented him from taking office while the case remained in the courts. The Supreme Court vacated the stay Friday and denied petitions by Wade's attorney to review the case. It wasn't immediately clear Friday when Parks would replace Wade. Calls to lawyers for Wade and Parks weren't immediately returned Friday, although Wade told The News Record of Greensboro that she had conceded and wouldn't pursue additional litigation. "While I am disappointed in this decision, I do not regret my fight to ensure that only legal ballots are counted in North Carolina elections," Wade said in a statement. Parks, who served previously on the commission, would complete the remainder of a four-year term that runs through the fall of 2008. Wade joined the board in 2000. State elections director Gary Bartlett confirmed that it was last remaining barrier to Wade taking office. "To my knowledge, the Supreme Court ruling closes the books on the 2004 elections ... I think nationwide," said Doug Chapin, director of electionline.org, a nonpartisan clearinghouse of US election news. The Parks-Wade race was one of two considered by the North Carolina courts immediately following the election when judges were asked to consider whether more than 11,000 provisional ballots cast outside voters' home precincts should be counted. The other was the election for state superintendent of public instruction between Democrat June Atkinson and Republican Bill Fletcher. Wade led by more than 70 votes on election night, but Parks pulled ahead the next week by more than 200 votes after provisionals were counted. Wade and her lawyers argued that those provisional ballots shouldn't have been added to the totals. Ultimately election officials disallowed hundreds of ballots, but they weren't enough for Wade to overtake Parks. In the superintendent's race, Atkinson led by 8,535 votes, but the Supreme Court in February 2005 agreed with Fletcher that state law didn't permit provisional ballots to be counted. The Democratic-controlled General Assembly essentially voided that ruling, making it clear that out-of-precinct provisional ballots should have been counted and ultimately sending the contested race to the General Assembly. Lawmakers picked Atkinson for the job in a party-line vote last August, seven months after the start of her four-year term. Wake County Superior Court Judge Henry Hight, who presided over litigation in both races, didn't address whether the new law applied to the Guilford commissioner's race, so the provisional ballots were examined and some thrown out. The State Board of Elections issued new rules for this year's elections to clear up how provisional ballots are to be counted. "North Carolina is one of several states ... that have been struggling with what to do with out-of-precinct provisional ballots," Chapin said.