Political expert says Mother Nature could dampen voter turnout

Published: Oct. 25, 2020 at 11:28 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Wet weather caused some polling locations to close in Madison Sunday, and a political expert said the inclement weather can depress voter turnout.

Two polling locations on UW-Madison’s campus were closed because of the snow. The Memorial Union location remained open and voting was moved inside.

“It’s a little chilly. First snowfall of the year,” Greta Goetz, Madison voter said.

Snow flurries and frigid wind was no match for some voters as they planned to hit the polls rain or shine.

“We would have waited if we had to,” Jake McClanahan, Madison voter said.

McClanahan and Goetz were able to escape the cold temps and vote inside the Memorial Union polling location.

“It was nice we were able to vote inside. In and out really speedy,” Goetz said. “A little or a lot of discomfort is worth getting out to vote.”

Experts said inclement weather on top of covid adds another layer of complication.

“If there are people that aren’t enthusiastic voters they may just say ‘Uh, I’m going to skip it.’ In other words, it could depress the turnout,” Richard Haven, UW-Whitewater Emeritus Professor of Communication, political analyst said.

He said with early voting, people have more time to get to the polls so it isn’t a big concern. But election day, the weather could have a more profound impact.

“Research suggests that more people who are supportive of Vice President Biden are voting absentee. More people who are supportive of President Trump are waiting to vote in person,” Haven said.

He said on Nov. 3 the republican party is expecting a big turnout.

“The pandemic and the weather can have an effect on that turnout,” he said.

On Oct. 22, five polling locations were closed because of a storm. The Madison clerk said as a result, there was a slight dip in voter turnout.

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