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Discussion Title Are You Ready for Election Day, Nov. 5?

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, county residents will go to the polls to elect a new governor and other top Virginia officials, as well as a new sheriff and vote on a school bond referendum. On Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 1 p.m., Fairfax County General Registrar Cameron Quinn will be available to answer your questions about voting, going to the polls and more. Please note that questions for the online chat will not be answered until Oct.30 and any questions regarding voting that need immediate attention should go to voting@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 703-222-0776 (TTY 711).


Cameron Quinn : Hi, I'm Cameron Quinn, General Registrar, and I'm here to answer your questions about Election Day and voting.


Anonymous User : Can I vote at any in-person absentee satellite polling location? Where can I find the satellite polling locations?

Cameron Quinn : Yes, those eligible to vote absentee can vote at any in-person satellite polling location.  You can find polling locations and hours online at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/absentee.htm.  The deadline to vote in-person absentee is Saturday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m.  As long as you are in line by 5 p.m. on Saturday, you will be able to vote.  To determine if you are eligible to vote absentee (and many voters are eligible), check online at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/absentee.htm#AmIEligibletoVoteAbsentee or call 703-222-0776, TTY: 711.


Anonymous User : Does Virginia count absentee ballots if the race is not close?

Cameron Quinn : Yes. While some states/localities do not, Virginia has always counted absentee ballots on Election night, like all other ballots, and absentee results are a part of the total count.  Some localities, such as Fairfax, create a “central absentee” precinct (CAP).  Others mostly smaller Virginia localities outside of Northern Virginia, count absentee ballots within the precinct where a voter lives.


Anonymous User : What is the difference between absentee and early voting?

Cameron Quinn : Absentee voting is permitted when a voter is unable to vote on Election Day.  There are over a dozen reasons that a voter may vote absentee in Virginia. These reasons include exemptions for military, police, firefighters and other emergency responders, those who will be out of Fairfax County on Election Day, voters with disabilities and their primary caregiver, and most importantly for many Northern Virginia voters, the possibility that between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., the hours you spend commuting and working exceed 11 of those hours. For a list of all the reasons for which you can qualify in Virginia, check here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/absentee.htm#AmIEligibletoVoteAbsentee  At this point, it is too late to request an absentee ballot by mail, but you may still vote in person absentee.  For more information, please visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/absentee.htm or call 703-222-0776, TTY:711. 

Early voting, typically, is used to refer to voting in advance of Election Day in states where no excuse or reason is required to vote absentee.  Virginia does not allow early voting.


Anonymous User : Why in the Commonwealth of Virginia we can't have early voting?

Cameron Quinn : Any decision to allow “early voting” is made by the legislature. To date, the Virginia General Assembly has not authorized early voting. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is on record as advocating for early voting. If you have an opinion, you should speak to your elected state legislators, as only they can make this change.


Heather : What's the website where I can find information about who will be on my ballot and the text of any referendums that will be voted on? I want to know exactly what I will be seeing on the voting screen before I arrive.

Cameron Quinn : Check here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/sample_ballots.htm for sample ballots for this election.  For more information on the only bond referendum this year, for the Fairfax County Public Schools, including the text in multiple languages, please visit this Web page: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bond/


Caitlin : Do I have to vote at my local polling place? I work and live in Fairfax but my polling place is still listed as a previous address in Loudoun since I'm a new resident.

Cameron Quinn : If you moved within Virginia before this Election Day and after November 6, 2012, you may vote in your old precinct where your name appears on the pollbook. You will be required to complete and sign a new voter registration application at that time to correct the record for the next election.  All voters, except those who meet the "moved voters rules," MUST vote in the precinct in which they live. This is required by the state constitution.  If voters wish to check where they are currently registered according to the voting rolls, they have several options: 1) check the state Board of Elections website at www.vote.virginia.gov; 2) download the Fairfax County mobile app at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/mobile/ and use the "vote" icon to double check where you are registered (and get driving directions on your smartphone) or 3) call 703-222-0776, TTY: 711 and either use the automated response to check your registration, or during business hours, speak to a staff member.


Bill : Being an IT guy I really like using the touch voting machines, today I see that I am urged to NOT use the touch machines but to use the electronically scanned ballot.... HELLLOOO, isn't this the dark ages?? Was there a problem with the touch machines that didn't count my vote?

Cameron Quinn :

Virginia law now requires all localities to use voting equipment that provides a "voter verified paper audit trail," such as optical scan equipment.  Our old equipment was grandfathered in, but we now are planning to purchase new equipment this next year, since the Board of Supervisors has allocated funding for this purchase. As a result, we are encouraging, but not requiring, voters to use the optical scan ballots, also called electronically scanned ballots, to become more comfortable with the new technology.  The new equipment purchase will include some kind of an ADA accessible device, but the exact technology will depend on which vendor we select.  More information will be coming out after the election on ways that those interested can participate in the selection process.

In Fairfax there has not been a specific instance where touch screens were a problem, but there have been reports in other parts of the country of problems, which is what prompted the legislature to require a "voter verified paper audit trail."


GMU Student : Hello, I just called your office and was told that I could not vote in person absentee even though I am a full time student at GMU Fairfax, work at Fairfax Corners and now I have to go back to Alexandria, past Ft. Belvoir to vote? I thought there was a commuter exemption.

Cameron Quinn : If your work and commute is at least 11 hours of the 13 hours that the polls are open, you qualify to vote absentee, but being in school full time does not yet qualify under Virginia law.  Again, please consult the following page to see if anything else qualifies you to vote absentee: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/absentee.htm#AmIEligibletoVoteAbsentee


Mike : I know the lines won't be as long next week as a presidential election, but will that issue be fixed in time for 2016? Thanks.

Cameron Quinn : We are diligently working to improve the elections processes and procedures to avoid long lines in time for 2016.  The county was fortunate to have a number of citizens serve on a bipartisan commission to make recommendations, which we are working to implement (for more information, click http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/electioncommission/).  In addition, the Board of Supervisors has taken voter concerns seriously and has provided some additional funding to the Office of Elections that is allowing us to do such things as provide electronic pollbooks in all precincts, which will improve the situation.  One piece of advice: if you can avoid going to the polls until after 9 a.m. any November election, you are much less likely to find a long line.


Cameron Quinn : Thank you for joining me today.  Please if you have any further questions, call our office at 703-222-0776, TTY: 711.  You can even get answers to frequently asked questions on the automated line after hours. You can also visit our website at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/ or get there through our mobile app.  Don't forget to vote Tuesday, Nov. 5!

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