Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas on Tuesday night extended voting in all Hinds County polling precincts until 8 p.m., giving voters in the state’s most populous county an additional hour to cast ballots in a crowded statewide election.
The judge issued the order based on an emergency request from the Mississippi Democratic Party, which said in court documents that numerous precincts in the county ran out of ballots to issue voters throughout the day.
The ballot shortage happened in the middle of a bitter governor’s race that has pitted Republican Gov. Tate Reeves against Democratic opponent Brandon Presley.
Hinds County is located in the state’s metro area and contains a high percentage of Black voters, which tend to swing Democratic. The county would be a crucial voting bloc for Presley, who has mounted a competitive campaign against the incumbent governor.
Nick Cosmos, a legal protection attorney with Presley’s campaign, told Mississippi Today in a statement that the campaign received numerous reports through its election hotline that multiple precincts in the county ran out of ballots throughout the day.
“We intend for every eligible voter who shows up to vote in Mississippi to be able to cast their ballot. If you are in line, please stay in line or if you have any issues, call the Voter Protection Hotline number at 601-203-4131,” Cosmos said.
But the Election Day concerns have attracted concerns from both of the state’s political parties. Mississippi GOP Chairman Frank Bordeaux said he spent most of Tuesday traveling around the state but had been briefed on the Hinds County matter.
“If what I’m hearing is true, it’s very, very concerning,” Bordeaux said.
Mississippi is a “bottom-up” state when it comes to elections, meaning counties are largely responsible for staffing polling precincts and printing enough ballots. State law requires counties to print a minimum of 60% of ballots reflective of their active voter count.
If voters are in line by 8 p.m., they can stay in line until they cast a ballot.
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