RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — In an emergency meeting Tuesday, the State Board of Elections decided to extend voting hours at three precincts across the state. 

The emergency meeting was called after polling places in five counties reported delays in openings after a variety reasons. 

Voting will be extended by one hour at select polling places in Wilson County, Robeson County and Columbus County. The following polling places will close at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night rather than 7:30 p.m.:

  • Wilson County: Saratoga – Sanoca Volunteer Fire Station / 6903 Church Street, Saratoga, NC 27873    
  • Robeson County: Gaddys – Gaddys Township Volunteer Fire Department / 1022 Gerald Road, Fairmont, NC 28340
  • Columbus County: Ransom – Ransom Event Center / 2696 General Howe Highway, Riegelwood, NC 28456

State statues require polling places to be open for a specific number of hours. That statute allows the SBE to extend time if voting is interrupted by at least 15 minutes. Voting may be extended for the equal amount of time voting was disrupted. 

“It’s never a good situation when we have, for whatever reason, a delay in our opening but out of the 2,600 precents, we’re talking now about three precents that might need a slight extension of time to make sure that we treat those precents fairly as we do al 2,600,” said Damon Circosta chair for the SBE during the emergency meeting.

SBE said voting at the Sanoca Volunteer Fire Station was delayed because of issue printing Authorization to Vote forms. Election workers could not start checking people in until 8:30 a.m.. As a backup, staff offered provisional ballots to voters. SBE said between 15 and 20 voters opted not to fill out a provisional ballot and left without voting. 

At the Robeson County site, SBE said there was a delay of a little more than an house. Staff there reported the building was locked and they did not have the access code to get in. Eight voters left without casting a ballot and SBE said it was unclear if they were able to return. In Ransom, there was a delay of an hour and 10 minutes to get the polls open. While 25 voters initially left, all but five were confirmed to have returned at a later time to vote. 

Voters in line at affected precincts will have to vote using a provisional ballot if they arrive after 7:30 p.m. Those who are in line by 7:30 p.m. would still vote a regular ballot. 

“In situations where we cannot account for all voters, out of a sense of fairness, I do think we need to offer somewhat of an extension,” said Circosta.

Four other precinct experienced delays in opening but election officials at those polling places reported voters eventually returned and casted their vote. Those precincts were in Guilford County, Warren County and two were in Columbus County.