MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A judge denied a motion Monday to open more early voting sites in Shelby County, and ruled that several Republicans on the county’s election commission had not violated the Open Meetings Act.

Three entities — the Black Clergy Collaboration of Memphis, Memphis NAACP and Up the Vote 901 — took the Shelby County Election Commission and Election Administrator Linda Phillips to court, hoping to open up more early voting sites the first few days of early voting.

Early voting starts this Wednesday for the May primary in Shelby County. SEE ELECTION DATES AND SITES

The Election Commission will only have the downtown election headquarters at 157 Poplar Ave. open the first two days of early voting, then a few more sites on this coming Saturday. All early voting sites open the Monday after Easter.

The entities that sued said the commission did not give enough public notice about the fewer sites, held meetings between some election commission members that violated the Open Meetings Act, and said that Election Administrator Linda Phillips did not check with many prominent churches — as she claimed she did — to determine if they were willing to open on this Saturday as early voting sites, since it’s Holy Week.

The plaintiffs wanted all voting sites open during the start of, and for all of, early voting.

Several pastors testified that they had not been contacted by Phillips and would like their churches to be used during the first days of early voting.

They also said limiting the first days to the downtown office was a struggle for people who had no transportation, or had to pay to park downtown. Even if they offer six free parking sites, the pastors said that is not enough.

A judge from Jackson, Tennessee heard the case since many judges in Shelby County recused themselves since they are running for office.

The judge says there was no proof of a violation of the Open Meetings Act. Some Republican members did send a letter to the three Republicans appointed to the election commission, encouraging them about what to support. But, he said, there was no evidence those commissioners held a meeting among themselves.

The Judge also Denied opening up more early voting sites on the first few days, saying there was not enough time and it would disrupt the election process.

After the decision, Phillips said there has never been more than one early voting site open on the first days when election falls during Holy Week.

Also, many election workers didn’t want work during that time. She said it was an economic decision, since many poll sites don’t have many voters.

The pastors who testified said they are disappointed in the ruling but still plan to push voters to get out early and vote. They are planning a rally Wednesday afternoon.