Now that most of the polls have closed in the hotly contested 6th Congressional District runoff, election officials will play the waiting game to see if heavy metro-wide showers and flooding hampered voter turnout.
Voters seeking to elect either Democrat Jon Ossoff or Republican Karen Handel in this special election to replace Republican Tom Price, now U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, faced flooding on major interstates and thoroughfares, forcing them to contend with traffic jams.
“If you’re Karen Handel, you want as many people voting on Election Day,” said GOP strategist Chip Lake, adding that Handel’s margin over Ossoff among people voting today could be as high as 20 points.
But so far, none of the counties in the 6th District are reporting problems related to weather.
Maxine Daniels, director of DeKalb County elections, said that rain typically lowers turnout, but determining how much is difficult.
She said DeKalb’s voter traffic had been steady Tuesday and that weather was less of a factor since 25 percent of registered voters have already cast their ballots.
“My experience is that there is a group of voters who always vote on Election Day and they will not be likely be deterred by the weather,” Daniels said.
About 4 p.m., 15,000 voters had cast ballots, but Daniels said that number is unreliable given it’s from a small percentage of precincts. Daniels said the numbers game can also be tricky since percentages can increase drastically through the night as more polling places report.
The county made no plans to extend hours due to bad weather.
“The fact that they can’t get there (due to rain) isn’t grounds for extension,” she said.
Only two DeKalb precincts, Livsey Elementary School in Tucker and Embry Hills at Holy Cross Catholic Church, were extended until 7:30 p.m. The half-hour extension came after both locations experienced problems this morning with checking voters in.
Janine Eveler, chief of Cobb County elections, said there’s been no issues reported relating to weather in her county, either.
“I don’t think it’s had any effect. It usually doesn’t unless it’s really bad,” Richard Barron, director of Fulton County elections, said earlier Tuesday. As the polls closed, it was not known if the weather affected the county's turnout. As of 3 p.m., 26,326 had voted in Fulton County.
Metro Atlanta is expected to get up to 4 inches of rain through Thursday, according to Channel 2 Action News. Rain hit about noon in Alpharetta and about 1 p.m. in other parts of metro Atlanta, including much of the 6th District area. Parts of DeKalb and Gwinnett counties were under a flash flood warning until 10 p.m.