- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2014

Cold temperatures and snowfall forecast for the region could complicate Northern Virginia’s special election Tuesday.

Voters heading to the polls in Fairfax and Loudoun counties to choose a new state senator are expected to be confronted with the heaviest snowfall so far this winter.

National Weather Service officials said the D.C. area could see 4-5 inches of snow beginning late Tuesday morning through Wednesday, with a worst-case scenario of up to 8 inches.

Officials said that regardless of whether schools are closed, the election will be held and the sites that are scheduled to serve as polling locations will be open to voters.

Fairfax Electoral Board Secretary Brian Schoeneman said officials are working with the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to make sure that polling locations get priority attention for snow removal and treatment.

Eight of the 10 polling locations in Fairfax are schools. The other polling precincts are in Loudoun County.

Special elections typically draw fewer voters, and Virginia voters — who went to the polls in primary and general elections in 2012 and last year — often sees the effects of “voter fatigue.” Officials said it remained to be seen how the weather would affect the turnout.

“It’s hard to say with any certainty what the impact of the snow will be. Certainly, we can expect fewer voters will show up if it is unsafe or very difficult for them to do so,” Mr. Schoeneman said.

The snowfall is expected to strengthen through the late morning and early afternoon, and Mr. Schoeneman said residents should be careful getting to the polls.

“I would urge voters to drive safely, listen to local media for updates on weather conditions, and to take advantage of the fact that polls open at 6:00 a.m., which gives us potentially two hours of good weather before the snow starts. Vote early and stay safe,” he said.

• Emily Hoosier can be reached at ehoosier@washingtontimes.com.

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