Residents of Springfield’s Greenspring Village have their own puzzle clubs, post office and swimming pool. On Nov. 2, they will also be able to vote in the presidential election at their own polling place on the retirement community's campus.
Thanks to a boundary established in early 2003 by the Fairfax County Board of Elections, Greenspring Village has its own polls, where only residents of the village may vote.
The establishment of the polling place has helped to eliminate Election Day headaches, such as long lines and difficulties of travel, for the nearly 2,000 residents of Greenspring.
Prior to the new precinct’s existence, residents of Greenspring voted at Garfield Elementary, off Old Keene Mill Road in Springfield. Getting there, however, was a challenge for many residents, according to Bill Henry.
"The polling place we had was awful crowded. It was a real mess," said Henry, a resident of Greenspring. "And we have a lot of handicapped people here who have trouble getting out."
At a meeting of the American Association of Retired Persons [AARP] chapter at Greenspring following the 2002 elections, Henry suggested the idea of Greenspring getting its own polling place to the evening’s speaker, Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee).
He had a sympathetic ear in Kauffman, who said he had observed the long lines and crowded parking areas at the Garfield Elementary polling place for the Lynbrook precinct.
"The need was clearly articulated and based on personal experience, frankly obvious," said Kauffman. "It was incumbent upon me to do whatever I could to make this happen."
IN THE spring of 2003, that proposal became a reality, as the Board of Elections created the Greenspring Precinct, which comprises only residents of the village.
"The Greenspring Village [had] over 1,000 registered voters, which is about the minimum of our registered precincts," said Judy Flaig, election manager for the Fairfax County Board of Elections.
Not only are the residents of Greenspring more comfortable, but according to Kauffman, having the polling place right on the premises has made them even more involved.
"Now, it's three-quarters local people, locally engaged citizens who have found a new home and want to let people know how they think. I'm definitely not going to get in their way," said Kauffman.
The boundaries of the Greenspring precinct are drawn around the village's borders, making it the first gated community to have its own voting precinct.
"It made sense to put it right there. We specifically drew the boundaries so that everybody would be in the precinct, but because it’s a gated community, so that nobody would come in from outside," said Flaig.
Having it on campus was Henry’s goal all along.
"I didn’t ask," he said. "I was hoping it would be here, but I couldn’t push my luck. You get to the point where if you ask for the world, you get nothing. I wanted something that wasn’t as crowded and something we could get to easier."
In the 2003 elections, Greenspring had the highest turnout of any precinct in Fairfax County. According to BOE statistics, 59 percent of registered voters in the precinct voted last year.
"Having it right here was wonderful. We were able to show how many of our residents vote," said Lyn Lubic, Greenspring’s assistant executive.
As it was last year, the polling place will be in the Hunters Crossing Conference Center at Greenspring. Since all buildings at Greenspring are connected, residents can either make their way through the bridges and tunnels to the conference center, or take the buses that are provided.
"Having it here at Greenspring has made it so much easier for our residents. They can work it into their schedule," said Pam McKinley, Greenspring’s public relations director. She added that Greenspring residents will staff the polling place, helping with voter check-in and answering questions. The only problem that occurred last year, said Flaig, was that the polling place had high volumes of traffic during specific times of day, such as after breakfast and lunch. That made for some long lines at certain points. She suggested residents try to vary their voting times to solve that problem.
This year, the precinct will have five voting machines, according to Flaig, who said the BOE has already run demonstrations on them for residents.
Henry said he plans to vote in this year’s presidential election, just as he has in every single one since 1944, when he helped incumbent Franklin Delano Roosevelt earn a fourth consecutive term.
"I believe in voting, period," he said.