Early Voters Impacted By Extreme Weather In 2020

As frontline populations, including the elderly, lower-income, and communities of color, are standing outside for hours to exercise their right to vote, they are facing extreme heat, weather, and storms made worse by climate change. This is another iteration of voter disenfranchisement in what could be a series of incredibly close races across the country.

This is a list compiled of instances where 2020 voters have been impacted by climate change – from passing out from heat exhaustion to being displaced by wildfires, and polling places closing because of supercharged hurricanes.

Additionally, here is an interesting thread from Reverend Raphael Warnock, GA on his work to enfranchise voters following Hurricane Katrina, showing just how long climate has been impacting Americans’ right to vote.

  • 10/13 – Savannah, Ga. – Three people passed out while at a voting location in Chatham County. Temperatures broke records in Savannah that day.
  • 10/14 Louisiana– Thousands who fled or were displaced by Hurricanes Laura and Delta remain scattered in temporary housing as election day approaches.
  • 10/21 Lake Charles, LA –  “Due to Hurricane Laura, 85% of our polling locations were relocated to mega centers.” Officials warned that with decreased polling sites, large numbers of voters are expected at the mega centers on Election Day, putting voters at risk for COVID.
  • 10/22 Grand County, CO – Officials had to evacuate ballots as the East Troublesome Fire forced the area’s residents to flee.
  • 10/23 Grand County – The wildfires spreading across the state have put elections officials to the test to ensure everyone’s ballots are protected.
  • 10/26 U.S. Gulf Coast – Early voting expected to be impacted by heavy rain and flooding from Hurricane Zeta.
  • 10/27 Larmier County, CO– Polling centers in Larimer County were closed because of wildfires in the area. Officials said it may take days to re-open the polling locations.
  • 10/27 Doña Ana County, NM – Outdoor, manned absentee ballot drop boxes will be pulled indoors at Early Voting locations Tuesday due to snow and extreme weather conditions in Doña Ana County. Moving outdoor polling locations inside puts individuals at risk of coronavirus in a state where cases are surging. On October 27th, weather stations at NMSU and Jornada Experimental Range recorded record snowfall amounts and record low temperatures. Just five days earlier on October 22nd, NMSU posted a record high temperature of 88 degrees, topping the previous record of 87 set in 2003.
  • 10/27 Orange County, CA– Numerous places around Irvine and other parts of the county were set up as evacuation centers, but potentially just four of those sites, officials said, were also slated to be voting centers, raising the possibility that they may not be able to open for voters later in the week if the fires do not subside.
  • 10/27 Las Cruces, MN – Alternative voting locations put in place due to the earliest snowfall ever fallen in the area.
  • 10/27 Odessa, TX and Midland, TX – All early voting locations in Midland County are closed for the day but may reopen Wednesday, depending on weather conditions. Midland International Airport posted a record low temperature of 27 degrees on October 26th, less than two weeks after setting a record high of 97 degrees on October 14th.
  • 10/28 – Lake Charles, Louisiana – In the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Delta, nearly 70 percent of 123 voting precincts in the Lake Charles area was moved to a new location, according to Lynn Jones, the Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court. Residents from 85 voting precincts have been directed to three consolidated ‘mega-sites’ to vote during the early voting period and for the general election on Nov. 3.
  • 10/28 Gulf Coast  — Bad weather ahead of Hurricane Zeta forced early voting sites to close for hours in the western Florida Panhandle. Tropical storm warnings covered a large swath of the South, from Louisiana and Mississippi into Alabama and Georgia, including all of the Atlanta area.