RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- The North Carolina Board of Elections has agreed to extend voting in eight precincts in Durham County.
The board voted 3-2 on Tuesday evening to extend voting by an hour in two precincts most heavily affected by a computer glitch that forced poll workers to check for registered voters on paper printouts. The board says six more precincts can stay open a shorter amount of time.
The NAACP asked for the eight precincts to stay open for 90 extra minutes.
Polls are set to close in the rest of North Carolina at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Advocacy groups say they're suing to extend voting hours in Durham County by 90 minutes because of computer problems that resulted in a paper check-in process.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice said in a news release that it filed a lawsuit on behalf of Democracy North Carolina requesting an emergency action from Wake County Superior Court. The groups want the court to order the State Board of Elections to keep Durham County polls open.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens is expected to preside over the emergency hearing.
Meanwhile, the Durham County Board of Elections has asked state board to extend voting hours at one precinct, the Bethesda Ruritan Club. It also is gathering information for the state board about whether hours at other locations should be extended. The county board will then determine whether to request extended hours at any other polling location.
The computer problem resulted in at least one precinct running out of authorization-to-vote forms for about 90 minutes.
North Carolina's State Board of Elections is holding an emergency meeting to consider the requests. The board said in a news release that the five members will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday to consider requests for extended hours. An earlier news release notes that Durham elections officials haven't reported significant wait times through most of the day.
Durham County spokeswoman Briana Khan says the county board sought permission Tuesday from the State Board of Elections to allow voting to continue until 9 p.m. in all 57 precincts rather than 7:30 p.m.
The request was made after a computer problem in some precincts resulted in elections officials relying on a paper check-in process. That resulted in at least one precinct and perhaps more running out of authorization-to-vote forms.
Voters in line at 7:30 p.m. will be allowed to vote.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign says she supports keeping the polls open later in Durham County because of the voting problems.
In a statement, Clinton's campaign points out the two Republicans and one Democrat on the Durham County Board of Elections supported extending poll hours because problems stopped poll workers from checking in voters on computers.
Durham County spokeswoman Briana Khan says the county board sought permission Tuesday from the State Board of Elections to allow voting to continue until 9 p.m. in all 57 precincts. Khan says the state board has demanded evidence that the problems affected all the precincts so the county has called in 60 additional employees to put together that information. The State Board has not responded to an email from The Associated Press requesting comment on the situation.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice and other groups also asked the state board to extend voting hours in Durham County after a computer problem resulted in elections officials relying on a paper check-in process. That resulted in at least one precinct running out of authorization-to-vote forms.
Meanwhile, the president of the state chapter of the NAACP is asking voters not to be deterred from casting their ballots. The Rev. William Barber says voters need to stay at the polls and exercise their right to vote.
The NC State Board of Elections released the following statement on the Durham County situation Tuesday afternoon:
The North Carolina State Board of Elections Office early Tuesday directed Durham County to use paper poll books throughout the day after technical problems with electronic poll books were encountered in some precincts.
The issue arose with the electronic poll books used to check in voters when they present to vote. It had nothing to do with ballots. Durham County uses paper ballots.
Later in the morning, the Bethesda Ruritan Club precinct in Durham County ran out of authorization to vote forms (ATVs), the cards signed by voters when they present to vote. This issue was a result of the switch to paper poll books. It has been addressed.
The State Board Office has been in constant communication with Durham elections officials and has sent staff to assist throughout the day. Durham County employees have been dispatched to Durham precincts to ensure they have the supplies they need and to collect information about voting disruptions in each precinct, if any.
The five-member State Board of Elections is expected to meet later Tuesday to consider any requests from the counties to extend voting hours. The State Board has the authority to extend voting times, but only under certain conditions set out in state law. (See the statute below governing that process.) A notice will be sent when a meeting is officially scheduled.
Durham elections officials have not reported significant wait times in most precincts throughout most of the day Tuesday.
§ 163-166.01. Hours for voting.
In every election, the voting place shall be open at 6:30 A.M. and shall be closed at 7:30 P.M. If the polls are delayed in opening for more than 15 minutes, or are interrupted for more than 15 minutes after opening, the State Board of Elections may extend the closing time by an equal number of minutes. As authorized by law, the State Board of Elections shall be available either in person or by teleconference on the day of election to approve any such extension. If any voter is in line to vote at the time the polls are closed, that voter shall be permitted to vote. No voter shall be permitted to vote who arrives at the voting place after the closing of the polls.
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