Judge rescinds order keeping Nottoway polling place open after state raises fairness concerns

By: - November 8, 2022 7:14 pm

An ‘I Voted’ sticker. (Nathaniel Cline / Virginia Mercury)

A Virginia judge rescinded a prior order keeping a Nottoway County polling place open for an extra hour after state officials raised concerns over whether all candidates had notice of the extended hours.

Nottoway was one of several counties that experienced problems with electronic pollbooks Tuesday, an issue that apparently led a judge to agree to a request to keep the polling place at Blackstone Elementary School open until 8 p.m.

At the request of the State Board of Elections, the office of Attorney General Jason Miyares successfully asked Judge Paul W. Cella to reconsider his prior order.

“SBE is concerned with the purity of the election (and that is part of its statutory duty under 24.2-103-104), in that one candidate will have notice of the extended polling hours while the others will not,” state attorney Joshua Lief said in an email Tuesday evening to Cella’s clerk. “SBE further understands that the issue with pollbooks was county wide, not specific to this one polling place.  There is also some dispute about how long the pollbook issue remained unresolved.”

Nottoway has been grappling with major controversy over how its election office is being run for much of the year, with numerous residents raising concerns that local political disputes were spilling over into the registrar’s office.

In an email informing the state of the judge’s prior decision Tuesday afternoon, Nottoway Registrar Rodney Reynolds said the extended hours were a result of “eight voters not being able to vote when the polls opened this morning.”

Meanwhile, a Suffolk Circuit Court judge ordered that a polling place at East Suffolk Recreation Center in Suffolk County should remain open 20 minutes past the 7 p.m. closure of the polls “due to electronic issues with the voting machines” earlier in the day.

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Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.