Absentee Voting - FAQs

Do you count absentee ballots? Even if the race isn’t close?

Yes. We always count all eligible absentee ballots, in every race.  These are reported through our Central Absentee precinct on Election Night.

Does Virginia have Early Voting?

Not exactly.  Virginia allows “In-Person Absentee Voting.” Unlike Early Voting, which is open to any voter without need for a qualified reason or excuse, Virginia’s In-Person Absentee Voting is only available to certain qualified voters.

Do I qualify to vote using an absentee ballot?

Only certain voters may vote by absentee ballot; these include the following:  

  • Any voter unable to go in person on Election Day because of a disability, illness or pregnancy;
  • Voters absent from Fairfax County on Election Day due to vacation or business;
  • Voters primarily responsible for care of an ill/disabled family member confined at home;
  • Commuters whose combined work hours and commute time keep them outside Fairfax County for at least 11 of the 13 hours the polls are open;
  • Active duty military, their spouses and eligible dependents away from the County Election Day;
  • Voters living overseas whose last residence in the United States was in Fairfax County;
  • Students, or spouses, attending school and absent from Fairfax County on Election Day;
  • Voters unable to go in person to the polls on Election Day because of a religious obligation;
  • Election Officials;
  • Polling place observers affiliated with a party or candidate;
  • Voters confined, awaiting trial or convicted of a misdemeanor, on or after the 3rd day preceding Election Day;
  • A registered and qualified voter who moves from Virginia to another state less than 30 days before a presidential election may vote absentee by mail only for  presidential electors; and
  • First responders, including
    • law enforcement officers,
    • firefighters (including volunteer firefighters),
    • search-and-rescue personnel, and
    • emergency medical services personnel;

Additionally, by federal law you must vote in person (and may not vote absentee by mail) if you are a

  • first-time voter, AND
  • initially registered to vote by mail,
    • NOT at the DMV or in-person at the Office of Elections.

However, this vote-in-person requirement does not apply if you are

  • a full-time student enrolled in school;
  • a member of the military on active duty, or dependent, away from Fairfax County Election Day;
  • an overseas voter living outside the United States;
  • unable to vote at your polling place because you have a disability, or illness;
  • over age 65 and otherwise eligible to vote by absentee ballot; OR
  • a voter who moved within 30 days of the election and will vote only for Presidential electors.

I think I’m eligible. How do I apply for an absentee ballot?

You can download the application, fill it out, and then mail it, fax it, or e-mail a scanned image of the form as an attachment to us at the Office of Elections.

Voters generally must send in a separate application for each election in which they wish to vote by absentee ballot.

Is there a deadline to apply for an absentee ballot?

YES.  You can apply as early as twelve months before an election. The Office must receive your absentee ballot application by 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election in order to mail you a ballot.  This year that deadline is April 29 for the May 6 Town Elections and June 3 for the June 10 Democratic Primary, 8th Congressional District only. 

If you face a medical or business emergency that occurs just before Election Day, you may be eligible for a “late” or “emergency” absentee ballot. The requirements for these types of absentee ballots are complex; please call our Office to learn more.

When will I receive my absentee ballot?

Ballots are mailed beginning 45 days prior to Election Day. If you request a ballot within 45 days of Election Day, we usually mail you your ballot the next business day, but always mail it within three days.

What is the status of my absentee ballot request?

You can track your ballot request online at the Virginia State Board of Elections’ website.

Is there a deadline to return my absentee ballot?

YES!  We must receive your absentee ballot by no later than 7:00 p.m. EST on Election Day. Ballots received after the deadline will not be counted.

It’s too late to mail my ballot so it is received in time, but not yet the deadline. What should I do?

Deliver your ballot in person to the Office of Elections, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 323. You must deliver your ballot before 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Where do I return my absentee ballot?

You may either mail or hand-deliver your absentee ballot to our Office.

I applied for an absentee ballot by mail but did not receive it. What should I do?

You have two options:

  • You can vote by provisional ballot at your polling place on Election Day. Your provisional ballot will count if the Electoral Board determines that you did not vote by absentee ballot.
  • You can stop by the Office, and you will be issued a replacement ballot. You may vote the ballot and turn it in before you leave.

I previously applied for an absentee ballot, but my plans changed. What should I do?

You have two options:

  • You may vote the absentee ballot and return it as normal.
  • You may bring the un-marked absentee ballot to your polling place. An election officer will mark your absentee ballot as “spoiled,” and you may vote on the machines at the polls.

Do I have to provide ID if I vote an absentee ballot by mail?

In most cases, No.    First-time voters, voting in federal elections, who initially registered to vote by mail, may have to provide certain federally specified voter ID before the Electoral Board will count the ballots. In that one situation, the voter’s absentee ballot packet will contain a notice explaining the requirement.

For more information about ID requirements, please see the Voter ID FAQs below.

Do I have to provide ID if I vote by in-person absentee ballot?

Yes. See Voter ID FAQs below.

Can I still vote absentee in-person if I requested a mail-in absentee ballot?

Yes, if you follow the following process:

  • If you have your mail-in ballot, you may either
    • vote on your mail-in ballot and turn it at the Office, OR
    • you may turn in your unmarked or spoiled mail-in ballot, and vote using the normal in-person absentee voting procedures.
  • If you do not have your mail-in or never received it, you may still vote an in-person absentee ballot.  We will count your in-person ballot and our system will mark your mail-in ballot as “VOID” if it ever comes to the Office.

When can I vote by in-person absentee ballot?


May 6, 2014 Towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna Elections In-Person Absentee Voting Schedule
(Open to registered town residents only)




Fairfax County Government Center
12000 Government Center Pkwy, #323
Fairfax, VA 22035

(No Satellite Locations)

March 21 - May 2
(Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday)

8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

(Thursdays only)

8:00 a.m. – 7:00 pm

May 3 (Saturday)

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.



June 10, 2014, Democratic Party Primary Election, 8th Congressional District Only, In-Person Absentee Voting Schedule
(Open to 8th Congressional District voters only)

Office closed Monday, May 26, 2014, for Memorial Day




Fairfax County Government Center
12000 Government Center Pkwy, #323
Fairfax, VA 22035

(No Satellite Locations)

April 25 - June 6
(Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday)

8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

(Thursdays only)

8:00 a.m. – 7:00 pm

May 31 and June 7 (Saturdays)

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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