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MEMPHIS, Tenn. —  Friday is the first day of early voting for the Shelby County general election and state and federal primaries and, after a few weeks of controversy surrounding how many polling locations were going to be put in place and where, five ended up opening.

Noel Hutchinson with the NAACP was ecstatic to cast his early vote at the location on Mississippi Boulevard in Midtown.

“I wanted to come here on my first day and exercise my right,” he said.

Originally, there was only going to be one place for early voting on Friday. But after the NAACP and Shelby County Democratic party filed lawsuits against the election commission, the plan changed.

“We are coming together to symbolize that we are glad for the victory of the court case and we want to actively vote,” Hutchinson said.

Polls opened Friday at Abundant Grace Fellowship Church, Dave Wells Community Center, Mississippi Boulevard Church, New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and the Shelby County Election Commission.

“It’s been just steady,” said Election Commission Administrator Linda Phillips. “People now pretty much walk in and out, vote and walk out.”

Phillips said she’s been making sure operations are running smoothly at all of the sites.

“We’ve really not had a lot of problems, other than candidates not wanting to pay attention to the 100-foot boundary set by Tennessee law. Otherwise, it’s pretty smooth.”

Earlier this week, a judge ordered the remaining 23 sites to be open by Tuesday, which initially caused some concerns since it was a day earlier than planned.

But Phillips says they’re making it work, and encouraged everyone to get out and vote.

“We’re on track. Most of the equipment’s being delivered today.”

Fve polling locations are currently open:

  • Abundant Grace Fellowship Church in Whitehaven
  • Dave Wells Community Center in North Memphis
  • Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Midtown
  • New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Germantown
  • Election Commission Office at Shelby Farms.

Early voting ends July 28 and Election Day is August 2.

Over 20 other locations will be open for voters beginning next week.

For more information, click here.