Superior Court judge extends Muscogee County voting hours until 9 p.m. because of confusion at two precincts

Politics

A Muscogee County Superior Court judge has extended voting hours at all 25 Columbus precincts until 9 tonight.

Judge Ben Land issued the order after 3:30 p.m. The polls opened at 7 a.m and were scheduled to close at 7 p.m. countywide.

Director of Elections Nancy Boren approached City Attorney Clifton Fay about extending voting hours after there was some confusion at two polling places in east Columbus.

A large number of voters reported the confusion at Canaan Baptist Church on Branton Woods Drive and Holsey Monumental CME Church on Buena Vista Road. Those are both new voting places. 

“I thought it would be fair to those voters at Canaan and Holsey who had been sent back and forth between the two locations to have an extended opportunity to cast their ballot if they had to go to work or take care of family issues,” Boren told News 3.

Voters were going to one place and being told they were registered at the other. One voter said it was time consuming and frustrating.

“We got up this morning about 6:30, 7 o’clock, we get over there and they tell us to come over here,” said Travis Antonio Gardner as he waited in line to vote at Canaan. “ A lot of people coming over here, we wait in the line and they tell us to go over there. It is making a lot of people a little irritated.”

Boren said Gardner perfectly explained what was going on.

“The poll pad at Holsey had Canaan voters and the poll pad at Canaan had Holsey voters,” Boren said. “So voters were being sent back and forth between the two locations. We have since straightened that out.”

It took about two hours to fix the problem. An old electronic voting list populated into the two polls.

Land was the judge with the responsibility to make the decision because he had been designated as the on-call judge for any election disputes.

“Protecting our citizens’ right to vote is critical to our democracy,” Land told News 3. “This is what this order, which the Board of Elections asked me to enter, accomplishes.”

Jim Clark, of Page, Scrantom, Sprouse, Tucker, and Ford, P.C., represented the Election Board and asked Land to extend the hours for all 25 precincts.

Read the full order below:

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