Electoral Board Response to Feb. 18 School Board Decision
Feb. 18, 2016
The Fairfax County Electoral Board and Office of Elections is grateful to the School Board for its decision tonight to make March 1 a teacher and student holiday for the presidential primary elections.
We very much appreciate the flexibility of our parents, who have already had several snow days this winter.
The county uses 167 schools as polling locations (out of a total of 242). We have seen the record turnout in primaries and caucuses across the country to date and we must also be prepared for a robust turnout in Fairfax County, which has 712,312 registered voters. Given the numbers indicating interest in this primary election, including absentee voting and voter registration, we knew that it would be a huge challenge to run two primary elections (Democrat and Republican) in each school and provide a normal school day for our students. These challenges included:
- An expected 1,000 to 2,000 voters coming into many school buildings that day.
- Parking for teachers, students, voters and election officers was also anticipated to be very difficult in our already crowded school parking lots.
- In higher turnout elections the polling places need to be in gyms, cafeterias and other large rooms that students must use during the school day.
Several other Virginia jurisdictions, including Prince William County have also made this difficult decision to close schools on March 1.
“Thank you to the Fairfax County School Board for recognizing that increased interest in the March 1 presidential primary presented complications for students and voters if the schools remained open. Closing them is a good decision,” said Electoral Board Secretary Katherine Hanley. “We encourage all our registered voters to participate in this primary election.”
More information is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections