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N.C. election results delayed by 45 minutes after polling station problems in Guilford, Sampson and Cabarrus counties
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N.C. election results delayed by 45 minutes after polling station problems in Guilford, Sampson and Cabarrus counties

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People wait for the polls to open outside Locust Grove Baptist Church in Browns Summit, N.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. About 20 people were in line at 6:15 a.m. and that number grew to more than 30 by the time the doors opened at 6:30 a.m.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted Tuesday to keep four polling places open longer because they opened late, and that is expected to delay statewide reporting of results.

Among the polling places with delays was Precinct G74 at Bluford Elementary School in Greensboro, which opened 34 minutes late, officials said.

Guilford County Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said the chief precinct judge arrived shortly be polls were to open at 6:30 p.m., cutting it "a little too close for comfort."

Instead of bringing voters inside to wait while the chief judge and others ensured everything was in working order, voters were kept outside.

By the time doors opened at 7:04 a.m., there were 10 people waiting. While Collicutt said poll workers don’t believe anyone waiting in line left, he admitted there is no way to be absolutely sure.

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The state board voted to extend voting at the Bluford Elementary site until 8:04 p.m.

The longest extension was 45 minutes for a site in Sampson County, which had delayed opening at two polling sites. That means the state can’t publicly report any statewide results until 8:15 p.m.

The state’s more than 2,600 polling places are otherwise scheduled to close at 7:30 p.m. But state elections officials said in a news release last week that if hours are extended at any polls, they wouldn’t publicly post any results until all polls are closed.

Board Chair Damon Circosta confirmed at the meeting Tuesday that the extended hours would delay public release of results.

Cabarrus County also had a delayed opening at one polling site.

Some of the delays were because of issues with printers or other electronic equipment. The extensions, which only apply to the individual precincts and not other sites in those counties, range from 17 minutes to 45 minutes and match the extra time it took to get them open.

Board Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell said at a news conference in the morning before the vote was held that it’s not unusual to extend polling place hours on Election Day.

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