Democrats: Judge extends Tennessee voting in storm-hit area

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A judge has extended voting hours in a Nashville-area county after four Democratic presidential candidates sued to keep Super Tuesday polls open after tornado damage there, a Democratic party spokeswoman said Tuesday.

A Davidson County Chancery Court judge ruled that polling locations in the county whose seat is Nashville must remain open until 8 p.m. CST.Two so-called megasites, where anyone in the tornado-hit county can go to vote, will be open until 10 p.m. local time under the judge's ruling, Tennessee Democratic Party spokeswoman Emily Cupples said.

The county is Tennessee's second-largest.

Tennessee Democrats and campaigns for Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren had sued to extend the hours. Voting locations in Davidson County had opened an hour later — at 8 a.m. local time — after an early morning tornado damaged more than a dozen polling places and voters were advised to go to other locations to cast ballots.

Cupples said some voters showed up at 7 a.m., but their polling locations were not open and they had to leave without being able to vote. Also, some locations opened after 8 a.m. because of storm damage, and those voters were not able to cast ballots either.

Lines were long at some locations that were unprepared for additional voters and people left without casting their ballots, Cupples added.

“This is a victory for all voters and this decision will ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in this historic election," said Mary Mancini, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, in a statement.

The extension of voting hours means election results may not be reported until early Wednesday morning, Davidson County Administrator of Elections Jeff Roberts said.

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Tornado touches down in Nashville
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Tornado touches down in Nashville
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: Emergency crews work near a damaged business at Jefferson St. and Seventh Ave. N. on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: A television news crew works in front of a mural on heavily damaged The Basement East in the East Nashville neighborhood as lightning strikes in the background on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path including two people killed in East Nashville. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: A resident makes her way down Underwood St. amidst downed trees and heavy debris on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path including two people killed in East Nashville. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: Storm damaged houses stand in portion on Underwood St. on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path including two people killed in East Nashville. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: Damaged utility poles and lines hang above Underwood St. on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path including two people killed in East Nashville. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: General view of a mural on heavily damaged The Basement East in the East Nashville neighborhood on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path including two people killed in East Nashville. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: A man walks by a storm damaged pickup truck on Underwood St. on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path including two people killed in East Nashville. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: Residents walk by a tornado damaged apartment building on Jefferson St. in Nashville, TN on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: Residents watch as emergency crews attend to a tornado damaged apartment building on Jefferson St. in Nashville, TN on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: Residents watch as emergency crews attend to a tornado damaged apartment building on Jefferson St. in Nashville, TN on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: Emergency crews work near a damaged business at Jefferson St. and Seventh Ave. N. on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: General view of a knocked down street sign near a damaged business at Jefferson St. and Seventh Ave. N. on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: Cars stop at service lines downed by a tornado on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: Emergency crews work near a damaged business at Jefferson St. and Seventh Ave. N. on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: General view of tornado damaged service lines on Ninth Ave. N. on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 03: Vehicles pass by damaged buildings on Jefferson St. after a tornado passed through the area on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
A lot is littered with debris brought on by a tornado that touched down in downtown Nashville, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Alex Carlson via AP)
Damaged vehicles and buildings are seen in East Nashville after a tornado hit the city in the early morning hours of Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Courtney Pedroza/The Tennessean via AP)
The Geist restaurant brick wall collapsed in a tornado that touched down in downtown Nashville, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Alex Carlson via AP)
People stand outside the Basement East music venue in East Nashville after it was destroyed by a tornado on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Courtney Pedroza/The Tennessean via AP)
Debris is scattered across the parking lot of a damaged apartment building after a tornado hit Nashville in the early morning hours of Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Courtney Pedroza/The Tennessean via AP)
Debris scattered across an intersection Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in downtown Nashville, Tenn. The National Weather Service in Nashville confirmed a tornado touched down in the area. (Celia Darrough via AP)
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With the extended hours, some 1,500 poll workers who had been counting on going home after polls closed at 7 p.m. will be working much later. Roberts said the average age of poll workers in the county is 66 years old.

“Some of those folks are going to feel a little uncomfortable being out in unfamiliar neighborhoods at that late hour, but we recognize it's important to make sure everyone has an opportunity to vote,” Roberts said.

Poll officers taking voting totals from individual precincts to the central office where the votes will be counted are going to have to use caution as they navigate closed streets, Roberts said.

Tornadoes ripped across downtown Nashville and other parts of Tennessee as families slept early Tuesday, shredding more than 140 buildings and burying people in piles of rubble and wrecked basements. More than 20 people were killed, some in their beds, authorities said.

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