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Turnout In Virginia Special Election Projected At Fifteen Percent

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UPDATE, Jan. 21: Loudoun County officials say that voting will occur regardless of the weather, and encourage residents to cast ballots early.

Election officials in Loudoun County are preparing to conduct a high-profile special election in the midst of a snowstorm.

The temperatures may be falling below freezing in Northern Virginia, but the politics are hotter than ever. Voters in Loudoun County and parts of Fairfax County will be headed to the polls tomorrow in a tightly contested special election to fill the state Senate seat vacated by attorney general Mark Herring, who narrowly won the statewide race after a recount.

Loudoun County registrar Judy Brown says election officials are expecting a 15 percent turnout, unless the weather intervenes.

"Depending on the amount of snow, I'm sure it will play some role in whether we see a 15 percent turnout or we see less," Brown says.

If the Democrats are able to keep the seat, the Senate will be evenly divided. That means Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam would be able to break ties.

"Never has such a big decision been in the hands of such a small number of voters," says Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.

"Control of the Virginia Senate is going to come down to a tiny electorate that will be made even smaller by the fact that this special election is in January and on a day when snow is forecast," he says.

The race features a Democrat, a Republican and a longtime Republican member of the House of Delegates running  as an independent.

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