A Chancery Judge originally granted an 8:00 p.m. extension, however an appeal has been filed to prevent that.
An appeal has been filed to block a judge’s order that would allow polls in Hinds County to remain open an additional hour on Tuesday in Mississippi’s General Election.
After reports of ballot shortages in Hinds County, the Mississippi Center for Justice on behalf Mississippi Votes and supported by the Mississippi Democratic Party filed an emergency lawsuit against the county Election Commission and Circuit Clerk Zach Wallace requesting polls in the county remain open for an additional time.
Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas issued an order allowing Hinds County polls to remain open until 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night.
An action was also filed in Hinds County Circuit Court by Mississippi Votes.
Following the emergency order, a direct source told Magnolia Tribune that an appeal was filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court to prevent the extension. Additionally, poll workers have been instructed to segment out ballots cast after 7:00 p.m. It could be up to the state’s high court as to whether the extension and votes cast after 7:00 p.m., by those not already in line, will be allowed.
However, individual voters in Hinds County have said that poll workers are not seperating those votes.
The Mississippi Republican Party intervened.
Chief Justice Mike Randolph has appointed Special Judge Jess Dickinson to preside over the matter.
Cheikh Taylor, Democratic Party Chairman, said they know of at least nine precincts that have had issues. He said at this time he did not know if they were all surrounding ballot shortages.
“Mississippians deserve the right to vote. If there is a clerical error that causes a shortage or long lines, that is why we filed an extension,” said Taylor. “This is unprecedented by the Democratic party.”
Typically, polls in Mississippi are open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., and allow for anyone in line by that time to cast a ballot. The state requires that each county have enough ballots to account for at least 60 percent of the precinct.
According to the Hinds County Election Commission, voter turnout has been so high they have passed that percentage. While new ballots can be printed, it can take time to do so.
The Secretary of State’s office said in a statement that they are aware of the issue, however they have not statutory authority to print, or distribute ballots to counties.
“We have been in constant communication with the local officials to assist in relaying complaints from our Elections Hotline and have dispersed poll observers to the area,” said the press release. “For the General Election, Mississippi law charges counties to print a minimum of 60% of the active voter count. County officials then decide how to distribute ballots among precincts. While we are happy to assist in any capacity, specific questions related to ballot distribution should be directed to the Hinds County Election Commission.”
The Secretary of State’s office does not have the authority to extend polling.
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