Severe weather on Election Day is testing voters in several states with key races

Voters in some parts of the country faced severe weather as they headed to the polls on Tuesday.

A wide swath of the South woke up Tuesday to knocked down power lines after strong storms overnight. The Mid-Atlantic region, including the area around the nation’s capitol, braced for heavy thunderstorms and possible tornadoes. The Northeastern United States was expecting heavy rain and potential flooding. And parts of the North Central and Western U.S. were anticipating snow.

The weather could hurt voter turnout, which may benefit Republicans in Tuesday’s high-stakes midterm elections.

According to a 2007 study, inclement weather on election day has tended to help Republicans, as weather events like rain and snow can decrease voter participation — particularly among Democrats. In a 2012 survey by the Weather Channel, more Democrats than Republicans said weather conditions on Election Day would impact whether they voted or not, 27% to 20%, respectively.

See how rain has impacted Election Day: 

Severe weather dampens Election Day
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Severe weather dampens Election Day
Tara Young is photographed at John F. Kennedy High School polling place during election day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Silver Spring, Md. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Democratic candidate for Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District Kara Eastman and her daughter Sabina arrive to the Blue Line Cafe in Omaha, Neb., their first stop on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Eastman is running against Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Poll worker Anthony Boddie, right, prepares for his precinct to open to voters on election day in Atlanta, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Tyra Moreland directs voters away from their usual polling place at an Atlanta library to a new one about two miles away during election day on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Long lines and malfunctioning machines marred the first hours of voting in some precincts across the country Tuesday. Some of the biggest problems were in Georgia, a state with a hotly contested gubernatorial election, where some voters reported waiting up to three hours to vote. (AP Photo/ Janelle Cogan)
Visitors walk past the Capitol on a rainy Election Day morning in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Voters cast their ballots at a polling site on election day in Atlanta, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 6: Jennifer Wexton, Democratic candidate for Virginia's 10th district, waits in the rain to speak to voters at the Clarke County Schools office polling location in Berryville, Va., on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 6: A voter arrives at the Old Stone School polling location as a light rain falls in Hillsboro, Va., on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA - NOVEMBER 06: Virginia residents line up to vote in the pouring rain at Robious Middle School November 6, 2018 in Midlothian, Virginia. The U.S. holds its midterm elections today, the first time the nation has voted since a divisive 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Voters open their umbrellas as they step into the rain as they leave a polling station, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Righteous Jolly and his two-year-old son Rhonin arrive in the rain at his polling voting in Langhorne, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A voter walks in the rain from her polling place after voting in Langhorne, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
NEW YORK, USA - NOVEMBER 06: Voters wait in the line to cast their votes in the midterm election and hold their umbrellas during rainfall at the Tribeca Indepence Primary School polling station in Manhattan, New York, United States on November 06, 2018. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

At least one Republican has already cited the weather as a potential GOP advantage as polling got underway, with Republican Bob Hugin — who is challenging incumbent Bob Menendez for his New Jersey Senate seat — telling reporters Tuesday that the rain was “Republican weather.”

“These other guys are going to stay at home, we’re going to make it happen,” Hugin said Tuesday, according to the New Jersey Globe, a political news site. “It’s such a big event. Thank God. God’s always looking out for us.”

The bad weather began on the eve of the election, with powerful storms felling power lines across the South and leaving about 11,000 people without power, according to the Associated Press.

More storms, including possible tornadoes, were forecasted for Washington, D.C., Baltimore and other parts of the Mid-Atlantic, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, the Rocky Mountain area — along with parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming — may see significant snowfall, according to reports. Parts of the Upper Midwest, including Minnesota and Michigan, may also see snow, though the accumulation is not expected to be significant.

The Great Lakes region and the East Coast are expecting rain, with some flooding possible in New England and New York.

Photos posted to social media on Tuesday have shown voters braving the elements in lines outside polling places.

But the foul weather may be one more obstacle for voters to contend with on Election Day. There were already reports Tuesday of faulty voting machines, long lines at polling places and accusations of voter suppression.

It wasn’t yet clear Tuesday afternoon if the weather would ultimately impact voter turnout, but it had already been blamed for snagging voting machines in North Carolina, where officials say high humidity levels led to problems with machines reading ballots. Officials said those uncounted ballots will be stored in “emergency bins” and that “all ballots will be counted.”

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