The N.C. State Board of Elections (NCSBE) had an emergency meeting at 2:30 p.m. on Election Day to extend voting for three precincts that had experienced delays. The board voted unanimously to approve a motion to extend voting for one additional hour at all three.
The precincts in question were the Wilson County’s Saratoga Fire Station precinct, Columbus County’s Ransom precinct, and Robeson County’s Gaddys precinct. Three other precincts also had delays, but the board decided not to extend voting at those locations because all voters who had been affected were identified and ultimately able to vote. Board members made sure to note that having delays at a handful of the 2,600 precincts in the state is fairly common.
“These kinds of glitches are normal, and a few precincts are kept open late in most elections,” Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity, told CJ. “That is why there was not much debate over the extensions. The only issue of contention was finding the right balance between allowing voters to vote and not overworking election officials.”
The delays were caused by equipment failures at some of the locations and a failure to gain access to the building at other locations.
Former state Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Republican now serving on the board, asked if maybe the precincts could be extended for half an hour rather than a full hour in order to relieve the poll workers. When Chairman Damon Circosta explained his reasoning, that each of the precincts had been closed for over an hour, he received no pushback and the vote was unanimous.
NCSBE director Karen Brinson Bell noted that this meant that results from these three counties would have to be held until 8:30 p.m. rather than released at 7:30 p.m., even for the precincts that did not experience any delays.
“The delay in the Wilson County precinct could be especially stressful for some candidates,” Jackson said. “That county is in competitive congressional, state house, and state senate districts.”
The total number of voters effected was very small, only a couple dozen, so the extension would be unlikely to have a major impact on any particular races.
At the beginning of the meeting, Circosta noted a specific state statute that said voting should be extended by a similar amount of time if it is delayed at any precinct.