Editorial – Election 2016: Much at Stake Nationally, Locally

Editorial – Election 2016: Much at Stake Nationally, Locally

Possible record turnout should motivate more early voting.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8, and in some ways that seems like it can’t possibly come soon enough.

On Election Day in Virginia, polls are open from 6 a.m. - 7 p.m., but early voting begins Sept. 23, about five weeks from now, and voters should have plenty of motivation to vote early.

It’s hard to articulate how much is at stake in the coming election, and it’s not just about the choices for U.S. President. Turnout will be extremely high, if not record breaking.

Nearly 32 percent of voters nationally voted before Election Day in 2012, according to census data, compared with just under 30 percent in 2008 and 20 percent in 2004, the New York Times reported.

There are 19 valid reasons to vote absentee in Virginia, with one that applies to almost everyone who commutes to work. If you could be working and commuting to and from home for 11 or more hours between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day, you qualify to vote “absentee in person.” If you vote absentee in-person you will fill out the application when you arrive at the in-person absentee location.

The deadline to register to vote on Election Day is Oct. 17.

Visit the Virginia Department of Elections website to check that you are registered or call Fairfax County Elections office at 703-222-0776.

Virginia has a stringent voter identification requirement, plan to bring photo identification with you to vote, whether that is absentee or on Election Day. Among accepted ID: valid Virginia Driver’s License or Identification Card; valid Virginia DMV issued Veteran’s ID card; valid U.S. Passport; other government-issued photo identification cards issued by the U.S. Government, the Commonwealth of Virginia, or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth; valid college or university student photo identification card from an institution of higher education located in Virginia; valid student ID issued by a public school or private school in Virginia displaying a photo; employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the ordinary course of the employer’s business. Any registered voter who does not possess one of the required forms of identification can apply for a free Virginia Voter Photo Identification from any general registrar’s office in the Commonwealth. Voters applying for the Virginia Voter Photo ID Card will have to complete the Virginia Voter Photo Identification Card Application, have their picture taken, and sign the digital signature pad. Once the application is processed, the card will be mailed directly to the voter.

While the Presidential election will take top billing, every seat in the U.S. Congress is on the ballot, with one hotly contested race in Northern Virginia.

The Town of Herndon will have its first November election, moving from May in past elections, with the office of Mayor and six Town Council seats on the ballot.

In Fairfax County, voters will decide whether to enact a four percent meals tax, a topic voters will hear a lot more about in coming weeks. Bond questions include $120 million in transportation bonds for Metro; $107 million in bonds for parks; and $85 million for building and renovating senior and community centers, and homeless shelters. More at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bond/

For more information on voting in Fairfax County:

Voter Registration: 703-222-0776, TTY 711

Absentee Fax: 703-324-3725

Email: voting@fairfaxcounty.gov

Election Officer Info: 703-324-4735, TTY 711

Email: elect@fairfaxcounty.gov

Look for more details in next week’s Newcomers and Community Guides.

— Mary Kimm


Ramping Up to Election Day

  • Sept. 23: In-Person Absentee Voting Begins
  • Oct. 17: Voter Registration Deadline - In-Person: 5 p.m., Online: 11:59 p.m.
  • Nov. 1: Last Day to Apply for an Absentee Ballot by Mail, Fax, Email or Online: 5 p.m.
  • Nov. 5: Final Day for In-Person Absentee Voting
  • Nov. 8: Absentee Ballot Return Deadline: 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 8: Election Day, Polls Open 6 a.m. - 7 p.m.