Make a Difference: Vote!
It is both a privilege and a right to vote. Many people consider it an obligation of citizenship. If you want to make a difference, i.e., if you want your voice to be heard, then you have to cast your ballot for those issues and those candidates that you believe will do the right thing for Fairfax County, Virginia, and the United States. That means you should vote.
YOU MUST REGISTER TO VOTE
You are eligible to register to vote if you are:
- A United States citizen
- 18 years of age or older
- A resident of Virginia
You need the following information to register to vote:
- Full legal name
- Home address
- Birth date
- Social Security Number
- Complete address of any previous registration (if any)
There are two ways to register to vote, in person and by mail. (You only have to register once if you are an active voter). You can register any time year-round except during the 21 days prior to a primary or general election, 13 days prior to a special election, or six days prior to a special election called by the Governor.
You can register in person, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. at the:
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 323
Fairfax, Virginia 22035
Tel: 703-222-0776 FAX: 703-324-2205
703-324-4700 for a 24 hour recorded message
You can register by mail, by downloading a Virginia Voter Registration Application or obtaining it at the following places: Fairfax County post offices, schools, senior centers, community centers, public libraries, Department of Motor Vehicles, military recruiting offices, public assistance agency offices, District Government Centers, Board of Supervisors Offices, the information desk in the Fairfax County Government Center lobby, and the Judicial Center information desk.
You must submit along with your application either (1) a copy of a current and valid photo identification, or (2) a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address. If the application is submitted without the accompanying ID, the citizen will be added to the voter rolls, but may be required to show election officials either (1) or (2) above the first time he/she votes in a federal election
NOTE: Virginia law requires that persons who register by mail must vote in person the first time they vote except for the military, full-time students, and people with disabilities.
HOW TO FIND YOUR POLLING PLACE
Your Voter Registration Card lists the name and address of your polling place (your voting location); it also tells you the District Number for the Virginia Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates, and the Congressional District for the U.S. House of Representatives for your residential location. The Fairfax County Office of Elections offers maps and directions to your polling place.
WHAT IF YOU NEED AN ABSENTEE BALLOT
Most people vote in person at their designated polling place. However, if you are unable to go to your polling place on Election Day, you may be eligible to vote by absentee ballot. There are certain eligibility rules for absentee voting. You must complete an Absentee Ballot Application and mail it or fax it to the Office of Elections.
Absentee Ballot Applications are available at county government centers and libraries; they are also available at the county’s web site. You fill out the form on-line, then print it, sign it, and mail or fax it to the Office of Elections. All information requested on the form must be provided.
If you are unable to go to your polling place because of a disability, you may request an Annual Application for an Absentee Ballot due to Physical Disability or Illness to receive an absentee ballot by mail for all elections for which you are eligible to vote. You complete Parts A, B, C, and D. Your physician completes Part E. In December of every year, you will be sent another Annual Application to fill out, sign, and return. You do not need Part E (the physician’s validation) after the initial application.
Once you receive your absentee ballot, be sure and return it by Election
Day. Be sure, also, to complete all of the information on the envelope
which is provided, to include the signature and date of a witness (anyone
can serve as a witness, including a spouse or other family member).
Completed ballots, in the envelope provided, should be mailed to the
Office of Elections.
VOTING AT THE POLLING PLACE
Voting Equipment Information
All Fairfax County polling places are equipped with two types of voting equipment - optical scan and touch screen.
Optical Scan Voting Machines
The AccuVote™ optical scan voting machines “read” a paper ballot marked by the voter. They help reduce the time spent waiting in line at the polling places since more voters can vote at the same time. The AccuVote-OS requires minimal precinct worker intervention. No buttons or levers need be pressed with each voter's entrance or exit from the AccuVote-OS; therefore, virtually no chance exists of inadvertently invalidating a ballot. The AccuVote-OS guarantees the integrity of the voting process through a series of pre-election tests as well as through its ability to produce printed reports as soon as the polls close.
Voters mark their ballots exactly as they would a paper ballot, i.e., by indicating their preference in the space adjacent to the candidate and/or issue response of their choice.
Touch Screen Voting Machine
In addition to the AccuVote optical scan voting machines, every polling
place is also equipped with WINvote™machines. The WINvote machines, also
known as direct recording electronic (DRE) machines, have been used in
Fairfax County since 2003. These touch screen machines are designed to
provide voters with disabilities the ability to cast their votes
unassisted. The machine is equipped with an audio headset for voters with
visual impairments to hear the text and instructions on how to vote, and
a “zoom” feature to enlarge the ballot for easy-to-read type. It can be
programmed for multiple languages. Because the WINvote machine can
operate on battery power, it can be taken outside for persons who cannot
leave their vehicles. It can also be placed on a table for voters who
must sit to vote, or for those who use a wheelchair. Voters can request
help, if needed, from any of the voting officials at the polling
IDENTIFICATION (ID) REQUIREMENTS
When you arrive at your polling place, a voting official will verify that your name is on the registration list. As a safeguard to prevent fraud and/or illegal voters, you will be asked to present a valid form of identification. It can be any of the following:
- A Virginia Voter Registration Card
- A Social Security Card
- A valid Virginia Driver’s License
- Any official ID Card issued by a Virginia government or Federal government agency
- An employee ID Card with photo of the voter issued by an employer
If you are unable to provide any of the above, you can sign an “Affirmation of Identity” statement affirming your identity under felony penalty for making a false official statement.
ACCESSIBILITY AND YOUR RIGHTS
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) incorporated the requirement for accessibility as defined by the ADA. Accessibility in HAVA is defined as “The voting system shall be accessible for individuals with disabilities ….. in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters.” The Fairfax County Electoral Board and General Registrar have affirmed that the voting machines in Fairfax County meet accessibility requirements for residents with disabilities.
As a Virginia voter, you have, among others, the following rights:
- To be treated with courtesy and respect by the election officials
- To be notified if your voter registration has been accepted or denied
- To vote if you have registered at your current address at least 22 days before Election Day
- To seek help from the election officials if you are unsure about anything relating to the voting process
- To be given a demonstration of how the voting equipment works
- To have a ballot (voting machine) brought to your vehicle instead of entering the polling place if you have a disability
- To have an election officer or other person help you vote if you have a disability or are unable to read or write. Persons who are blind may have any person assist them
- To bring your minor child (age 15 or younger) into the voting booth with you to observe you vote
- To vote if you are in line by 7:00 p.m. when the polls close
- To cast an absentee ballot if you are qualified to vote absentee
If, after you arrive at your polling place, or based upon a previous experience, you perceive that your polling place or the voting machines do not provide the accessibility you need, you can file an informal complaint with the Office of Elections by email: firstname.lastname@example.org , by fax (703-324-2205) or by calling 703-324-4735. However, the best and first course of action is to request help from one of the Election Officers at your polling place.
If you feel that your voting rights have been violated, i.e., you are not allowed to vote and you believe that you meet all of the requirements, ask an election official to contact the Office of Elections before you leave the polling place. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, call the State Board of Elections at 1-800-552-9745 as soon as possible, preferably before the polls close. If the problem cannot be resolved on Election Day by telephone, you can subsequently contact the State Board of Elections by email at
email@example.com. If you still believe your voting rights may have been violated, you can file a formal complaint using the Virginia’s Voter Complaint Form. Complete the form, have it notarized, and mail it within 10 days to:
Virginia State Board of Elections
200 N. 9th Street, suite 101
Richmond, Virginia 23219
GO AHEAD, MAKE A DIFFERENCE
You now have everything you need to know. Accessibility should not be a problem. So, go ahead and make a difference, go ahead and VOTE.
The late disability advocate and "father of the ADA," Justin Dart, used to tell people with disabilities, "Vote as if your life depends on it…Because it does."
“What politician can afford to overlook one-fifth of the nation's voting-aged population? That massive slice of the electoral pie comprises the roughly 40 million Americans with disabilities who are of voting age. Though not as cohesively identified as other minority groups, the disability vote is one that politicians ignore at their peril.
The 2000 presidential election proved how significant a role voters with disabilities can play. Historically, only about a third of people with disabilities vote in American Presidential contests, but this surged to 41 percent in that year's race, according to an N.O.D./Harris poll conducted at the time. Grassroots "Get out the disability vote" efforts deserve much of the credit. So do organized campaigns to ensure that people with disabilities were informed of their right to register and vote; efforts to ensure that service providers met their legal requirement to offer their clients the opportunity to do so; community efforts to make polling places and voting machines more accessible; and, one can assume, the issues and positions that the candidates presented to voters.”
From: The Disability Vote Made History in 2000. In 2004, It May Do So Again.
By Brewster Thackeray, The National Organization on Disability
Federal legislation that ensures access for voters with disabilities.
Bipartisan agency responsible for ensuring uniformity, fairness, accuracy and purity in all elections in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Provides each citizen of Fairfax County with the opportunity to exercise his or her right to vote in an efficient and equitable manner in accordance with the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Code of Virginia.