BREAKING NEWS: Spalding County polls will remain open until 9 p.m.

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Spalding County polls will remain open until 9 p.m., two hours after Georgia they were scheduled to close, due to what has been described as “a glitch” caused by a software update.

Griffin Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Fletcher Sams ruled Tuesday afternoon that polls were to remain open two extra hours after voting machines were nonfunctional in the early hours of Election Day.

In his order that was filed with the court at 5:21 p.m., Sams said, “Polls were to be open November 3, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. for voting in the general election. Because of equipment issues that were not caused by Petitioners and which were beyond the control of Petitioners, all the precincts of Spalding County had outages where voters were unable to vote during periods ranging from 20 minutes to two hours and 25 minutes.”

Sams later stated, “The voters of the precincts of Spalding County have been unfairly deprived of two hours to vote in the November 3, 2020 general election.”

Judge Sams, citing state law, ordered that all votes cast after 7 p.m. must utilize provisional ballots and be held apart from all other provisional ballots cast during normal poll hours.

According to Spalding County Election Supervisor Marcia Ridley, a petition seeking an extension to voting hours was filed in court by two local state representatives as well as a Spalding County poll worker.

“A petition was filed by David Knight and Karen Mathiak and also a poll manager, Julia Howard,” Ridley said. “I’m not sure why she (Howard) didn’t follow protocol. That wasn’t the protocol.”

Howard is the poll manager at Union Baptist Church located on North McDonough Road,  Ridley said.

“We just got out of an emergency Board meeting – the Board of Elections – and they voted to follow the judge’s order,” Ridley said. “They said they had no option. It was the first they’d heard of it. No one called this office.”
When asked how the Board of Elections learned of Sams’ ruling, Ridley said Spalding County Attorney Jim Fortune contacted members who were present in her office.

All Spalding County voting precincts will remain open until 9 p.m.

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