MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A gas leak forced an evacuation of a voting precinct around 5 p.m. Tuesday, but it seems neighbors were more affected by the leak than the voters.
“I couldn’t breathe and was about to pass out. I was holding my head, sniffing and smelling. I was trying to find out what was going on. My chest started pounding, because it was getting in my throat,” neighbor Adrienne Hale said.
Hale said she smelled gas as soon as she came home from school.
“I kept thinking something was burning. I looked at the stove, but nothing was on,” so she called MLGW, got her kids and left the house.
Hale said MLGW told her to get as far away from the scene as she possibly could.
Shortly after, she said, MLGW crews wnt across the street to the precinct at Raleigh-Bartlett Meadows Elementary School.
Moments later, voters were evacuated for 45 minutes.
Robert Myers with the Shelby County Election Commission says his focus was on voters and poll workers.
“I wanted to make sure they both were safe, that the voting machines were secure and that voters would have the opportunity to cast ballots in the event we couldn’t get back in the location,” Meyers said.
Meyers says legally the precinct has to stay open for 10 hours, but they are going to stay open for 12 so that the 45 minute evacuation doesn’t hurt them.
He says before voters were let back in they were about to bring ballots outside or go to paper ballots. He assured us there was no tampering with the machines while MLGW checked for gas.
The commission said this is very rare.
Even though things were back to normal in less than an hour, Hale thinks it’s not a coincidence.
“This doesn’t make any sense. They know these people have to vote out here, yet they have gas going around in the air. They’re trying to stop people from voting,” she said.
We reached out to MLGW to find out exactly where the leak was and if it’s been fixed.
We’re still waiting to hear back.