Election day rain raises fears for lower in-person voter turnout in L.A.

A storm in early November could potentially dampen chances of high in-person turnout Tuesday for California’s midterm elections as Southern California braces for high winds, several inches of rain and up to 2 feet of snow in the mountains.

A Gulf of Alaska storm is expected to peak on Tuesday before tapering off on Wednesday and dispersing into scattered showers, according to the National Weather Service. The system could dump between 1 and 3 inches of rain at lower elevations in Los Angeles County and between 2 and 3 inches in mountainous areas.

A flood warning was issued Monday night through Tuesday evening for parts of LA County, including the Antelope, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys. The downpour has the potential to cause flash flooding, rock slides and debris flows in recent burn scar areas.

California candidates and political activists have already urged people to turn in their ballots early at polling centers or mail in their ballots before the inclement weather. Studies have shown that early voting in person and by absentee ballot could help counteract the depressing effects bad weather could have on voter turnout.

The Orange County Republican Party sent out an email Monday advising members to vote as soon as possible to avoid getting stuck in the rain on Election Day.

“Election day queues are long, usually lasting one to two hours. Don’t risk being caught waiting in the rain to cast your vote,” the email said.

More than 17% of LA County’s registered voters cast their ballots for the midterm elections, with the vast majority voting by mail, the county registry office.

More than 70,000 people in LA County voted in person — about a third of them voted Sunday — and more than 900,000 voted by mail as of late Sunday count. Voting in Tuesday’s election will remain open on Mondays and Tuesdays, with polling centers closing at 8pm on Tuesdays and absentee ballots requiring a postmark from Tuesday or earlier.

The last time it rained on midterm or state election day in LA County was between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. on November 4, 2008, according to Weather Underground.

According to the county, 5.6 million people in LA County are registered to vote, about a million fewer than total eligible voter estimates.

Not only does the weather have the potential to prevent high personal turnout, it could even affect the direction of close races, like that between Republican Rep. David Valadao and Democratic Rep. Rudy Salas, who are fighting to represent California’s 22nd congressional district. That includes parts of Kern, Kings and Tulare counties, said Tom Holyoke, a professor of political science at Cal State Fresno.

“It’s a very close race that could go either way because Valadao, any loss of Republican votes could be extremely detrimental to him,” Holyoke said.

Although mail-in voting in 2020 enjoyed brief bipartisan support during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, former President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread mail-in fraud have led Republican-led states to pass legislation that sets new requirements for the Voter verification and capping provide access to ballot boxes and who can return ballots. Democratic states, on the other hand, have attempted to facilitate postal voting, which has led to a partisan rift in voting practice.

“There’s something like a propensity for Republicans to personally vote against Democrats,” Holyoke said. “With the big storm hitting tomorrow, that means many Republicans would have to go out into the rain to vote at their polling stations, and that could have a relatively small but depressing effect on voting.”

The impact is being felt especially in rural communities with less accessible locations and fewer polling stations, Holyoke said.

“People might just not want that,” he added.

Other races that could be affected include the 13th congressional district, which hosts Democratic MP Adam Gray and Republican businessman and farmer John Duarte, and the 9th congressional district, which hosts Democratic Assemblyman Josh Harder versus Republican Tom Patti from San Joaquin County becomes Supervisor.

Visit latimes.com for more details on how to vote in this election, the important races and the issues at stake.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-11-07/rain-election-day-voter-turnout-california-los-angeles Election day rain raises fears for lower in-person voter turnout in L.A.

Alley Einstein

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