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Republican Party argues keeping Hinds County polls open late violated state law

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The Mississippi Republican Party has filed a petition to dispute the Hinds County Chancery Court’s decision to extend voting hours in Hinds County during the Nov. 7 general election.

Party officials submitted the 22-page document to the Mississippi Supreme Court on Tuesday, arguing that election laws were violated numerous times throughout the day.

According to the petition, the Mississippi Democratic Party alleged that “a large [but undefined] number of precincts in Hinds County ran out of ballots during election day…leading to long lines, extensive delays, and voters leaving the polling places without voting.”

Up to nine of the 108 precincts in Hinds County were believed to have experienced a ballot shortage at some point of the day, with the longest gap being approximately two hours. As a result, Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas entered an order extending voting hours from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for all precincts in Hinds County.

“A number of precincts in Hinds County ran out of ballots during election day and are continuing to run out of ballots and others may run out going forward,” Thomas wrote in the order. “It takes time to deliver more ballots to precincts.”

At the time, Mississippi Votes had also filed a “Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief’ in the Hinds County Circuit Court that requested for four specific polling locations where delays in the voting process allegedly occurred due to ballot shortages to stay open until 9:00 p.m.

Judge Jess H. Dickinson issued an order on the complaint shortly after, requiring that the four named polls will remain open “until the last qualified voter, who was standing in line at the polling place at 7:00 pm, has cast his or her ballot, or 7:00 pm, whichever is later.”

The Mississippi Republican Party is now asking the court to “dissolve the Chancery Court’s order as void” as they believe it was entered in contravention to the state’s election laws and contradicted Dickinson’s decision.

It is unclear how many Hinds County voters were unable to cast a ballot due to the voting delays caused by the alleged shortages.

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