A long line awaits in-person early voters in Great Falls on Saturday, Oct. 17, the first day the satellite voting location at the Great Falls Library opened.
Photo by Mercia Hobson.
The need to drop their ballot into a secure drop-off box or slide it into a voting machine spurred hundreds of individuals to wait in the long line on the first day of in-person early voting at the Great Falls Library satellite voting location on Saturday, Oct. 17. One hour after opening, the line reached the intersection of Georgetown Pike and Walker Road. "I'm here today because I feel it is important to vote in-person to ensure my vote is counted,'' said Angela Bongiorno of Great Falls.
For Jane and Dan Tani of Great Falls, convenience and getting the job done mattered. "This is the first Saturday (the voting location) opened here in Great Falls. I wanted to do it as soon as I could in Great Falls," Jane said. "We're eager to vote to get it done," said Dan. Voter Kimberly Kelly jumped the line and the wait. She walked up to the official Fairfax County Office of Elections Drop-off Box for Fairfax County Absentee Ballots and dropped her envelope into it. " I'm voting absentee because of the line, and I wanted to get it in early. My husband and I work for the government and we wanted to make sure our votes are in. It makes me so very happy," she said.
Nearby, Larry Kelly, 82 years old (not related), guarded the drop-off box. "If you retire, and you sit, you die, but I'm limited in the number of hours to work for the administration of the Fairfax County Office of Elections." According to Kelly, the office mailed 250,000 ballots, and 30 percent to 35. are back. Kelly said that the office preprocesses the ballots dropped in the absentee ballot box, first reviewing and sorting, then the ballots are tallied by running them through a high-speed scanner. "The votes are tabulated... on Election Night, if you look at CAP (Central Absentee Precinct) … your vote is included in that count," said Kelly.
In addition to expanding the number of polling locations, Fairfax County instituted curbside and drive-up voting at these sites, a critical resource for voters unable to enter an in-person polling place to cast their vote.
VIRGINIA’S NEW STATE LAW permitted registered voters to use absentee/early ballots and allowed an additional 14 in-person early voting satellite locations to open earlier in the week on Wednesday. The 15 new sites were in addition to the Main Fairfax County Government Center's location open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Great Falls location is open two more Saturdays, Oct. 24 and 31, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Voting times at the other 14 new locations are weekdays, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Any registered Fairfax County voter can vote early and at any early site. The last day to vote at any early location is Saturday, Oct. 31, at 5 p.m.
There are three ways to vote in the upcoming elections on November 3, according to Fairfax County. To vote absentee by mail, individuals should apply now. The deadline is Friday, Oct. 23. The fastest and most secure way to apply is online on the Virginia Department of Elections website.
ON ELECTION DAY, Tuesday, November 3, polling places in Fairfax County will be open as usual, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Fairfax County Park Authority will host six new polling locations. The action was taken to ensure maximum available parking, enhance public safety relative to traffic and COVID-19 social distancing, and allow election officials to accommodate potentially large crowds. These six sites, Cub Run RECenter, South Run RECenter, Oak Marr RECenter, Spring Hill RECenter, Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center and Green Spring Gardens Horticulture Center, will be closed to customers to facilitate voters.
Visit Office of Elections Fairfax County for more information about early voting, vote by mail, sample ballots, track ballots, registering to vote and election results.