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The North Carolina board of elections has extended voting hours at several Durham County precincts after technical problems caused lengthy delays earlier in the day,
The board voted to extend hours by sixty minutes each at the Bethesda and Cole Mill sites, and by shorter amounts at other locations. Polls were originally scheduled to close at 7:30 p.m.
A state court on Tuesday evening denied a lawsuit filed by voting rights groups asking for a 90-minute extension for all sites across the county.
Some voters faced excessive wait time after electronic poll books stopped working and the county switched to paper books. The switch also prevented the precincts from printing out new “Authorization to Vote” forms, voting rights advocates have said. They said some voters were turned away and told to come back later.
Rev. William Barber II, the president of the state NAACP chapter, told the board at a hearing that it should not only have extended hours county-wide for the full ninety minutes requested but also made a decision earlier in the day to reduce confusion.
“To wait until this late in the afternoon, almost 30 mins before the polls would have closed anyway, is deeply concerning,” said Barber.
Earlier today, the Durham County elections board voted for a ninety-minute extension county-wide. But only the state board has the authority to extend hours.
"The Durham County Board of Elections — made up of two Republicans and one Democrat — has agreed that voting hours must be extended due to technical problems that occurred earlier today,” Robbie Mook, Hillary Clinton campaign’s manager, said. “We are urging the North Carolina Board of Elections to heed this bipartisan call and approve this urgent measure so that every voter can have their voice heard. Especially in light of the fact that Durham County had limited early voting sites, we have to ensure that voters have equal access to the ballot box."
State Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Democrat representing a Durham constituency, was at a polling site at North Carolina Central University in Durham. He said that only 40 voters were processed in three hours, thanks to the delays. McKissick said some students had left without voting.
“It’s been terrible for the last few hours in terms of people not being able to vote in a timely way,” McKissick said. “it’s been a horrendous situation.”
Local voting rights advocates had asked that the campus be designated an early voting site during the first week of early voting, but it was not, likely adding to lines on election day.