Additional Key Dates and Deadlines
Oct. 1: In-person absentee voting begins at ten satellite locations around Fairfax County
Oct. 17: Voter registration deadline
Nov. 1: Deadline to apply for absentee ballot by mail
Nov. 8: Election Day and mail-in absentee ballot return deadline
Nov. 14: Provisional ballot deadline (extended due to Veterans Day holiday Nov. 11)
Clinton or Trump? Meals Tax or no Meals Tax? These are just a two of the weighty decisions on the ballot for this fall’s election. To help people prepare for this cycle, leaders of the Fairfax County electoral board held a meeting with media to highlight some changes from the 2012 Presidential election.
As with most Presidential years, the board is expecting high voter turnout, but no higher than the 80 percent that was seen in 2012. The roughly half a million voters that made it through 243 precincts (the most in the Commonwealth of Virginia by more than 150) in 13 is a strong showing they think will repeat itself.
The board reports 650,846 active voters out of a total of 728,086 registered voters. To date, 15,654 absentee voting mail-in ballot applications have been approved. It’s estimated there will be more than 100,000 absentee voters.
Mail-in and in-person absentee ballot voting begins with a ceremonial opening of the polls at the Fairfax County Government Center Friday Sept. 23 at 8 a.m.
BOE secretary and former Board of Supervisors chairman Kate Hanley reminded voters that, “Absentee votes do count,” and encouraged people to mail their ballots early. The mail-in absentee return deadline is 7 p.m. on Nov. 8, while the final day for in-person absentee voting is Nov. 5.
The board members addressed concerns over the election somehow being rigged or tampered with by outside forces.
“It’s a completely paper-based system,” explained general registrar Cameron Sasnett. From the check-in Ipads to the ballots to the electronic counting machines, “it’s never connected to the internet, a completely secure system. At the end of the day, it’s still a paper ballot with a pen.”
The county purchased a new integrated voting system in 2014 and first used the machines countywide for the Nov. 4, 2014 election. They scan the paper ballots, count and save them, but also save the ballots themselves in case they’re needed again.
“We’ll have a paper trail, a big paper trail,” Hanley said, “that speeds up the process at the polls.”
Speeding up the voting precinct rooms in general are still a goal of the board’s.
After piloting Ipads with electronic poll books to more rapidly check in voters in the presidential primary, those devices will now be in every precinct.
In addition, there will be slightly more heavy staffing across the county.
“We’ll be staffed to make election day as efficient, effective and fair as possible,” Hanley said.
They also said there will be ongoing communication with precinct captains so they can respond in real-time to any voting or security issues.
For more information from Fairfax County on the upcoming election, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/upcoming.htm.