Weather and its impacts on Election Day

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) —Weather in Western New York is seemingly unpredictable at times. One day temperatures are in the 70s and the next it’s snowing. Election Day is no different.

Whether you’re a democrat or republican it doesn’t matter, if you can’t get to the polls to vote. Weather plays a huge factor in voter turnout on Election Day.

Len Lenihan, Democratic Commissioner of Elections in Erie County told News 4, “If there is a real big rain storm, wind storm, if it’s extremely cold, it will suppress turn out. Luckily, because it’s in early November we don’t have a lot of snow storms in November, although we’ve had some in October. We’ve had some rainy, cold, windy, election days.”

When the weather does become tough to handle the numbers have seen a shift. Lenihan says that it all depends on what year it is.

He said, “The highest turn out we get is in the presidential year. Most people want to vote for the president, and they’ll do almost anything to get to the polls.”

Republican Commissioner of Elections Ralph Mohr says that he’s seen weather impact the numbers at the polls but that he thinks, it’s a thing of the past.

He shared, “I’ve certainly seen the weather effect voter turnout much more in the past when people used to walk to the polls and polls used to be at the neighborhood stations.”

He says cars and different forms of transportation have greatly improved the ability for people to get to the polls no matter what.

No bad weather election days stuck out in his head, but he does remember an election year when Buffalo’s nice weather impacted turnout.

Mohr said, “I remember back in the late 70s early 80s when we had nice beautiful weather on a presidential election that you would just see lines going out the polls, as people would be walking to their polls.”

Although it hasn’t happened yet, if a significant weather event, like Snowvember, moved through Western New York on Election Day there is a plan in place.

He said, “There are provisions in the election law that allow the postponement of an election for 24 hours.”

What it comes down to at the end of the day, is how bad people want to be at the polls, and this year with the stakes so high, the turnout is expected to be near 70%. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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