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In Maryland, elections chief Linda H. Lamone asked Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Ronald A. Silkworth to extend the polling hours at about 7 p.m. on primary day after receiving calls from voters who complained that the foul weather had created traffic gridlock, delaying their arrival at polls. The judge approved a court order about 10 minutes later to keep the polls open statewide past the initial 8 p.m. closing time until 9:30 p.m.

Extending voting hours on a locality-by-locality basis sounds fine, but what happens when the offices being filled are elected by districts that cross from one locality into another?

Virginia Sen. A. Donald McEachin, Henrico Democrat, posed this all-too-plausible scenario:

Richmond’s flood-prone Battery Park neighborhood is inundated in an election-day storm, and high water traps voters for hours. A judge gives voters in Democrat-friendly Richmond a couple of extra hours. Neighboring Chesterfield County, which votes Republican, doesn’t get the extra time. A state House or Senate district — perhaps both — takes in both localities and part of another. In a tight race in a swing district, the extension in Richmond effectively gives Democrats two extra hours to muster their vote than the Republicans.

The crazy quilt of local, legislative or congressional districts overlapping and passing through numerous city and county boundaries could consume wide swaths of the state. Democrats and Republicans on the committee proffered amendment after amendment in an effort to guide the process, only to spot a flaw in each and discard it.

Mr. McEachin and Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, Harrisonburg Republican, both politically sophisticated lawyers, shuddered at the potential for confusion, inequity and mischief.

“I mean,” Mr. Obenshain said in frustration, one hand kneading his forehead, “how do you define an affected region?”

For now, the bill leaves it up to Circuit Court judges, on short notice, to determine the affected precincts. That leaves Mr. McEachin uneasy.

“I think judicial discretion is the last thing we want in this. I think we need to be as specific with the court as we possibly can. I don’t think the judges want any part of this,” he said.

The committee’s 10-5 vote for the bill advances it to a full Senate vote as early as tomorrow but not without an array of floor amendments in another bid to address lingering concerns about the bill.