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Voting in the 2016 Election Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

Voting in the 2016 Election

Fairfax County General Registrar Cameron Sasnett will answer your questions about voting in the Nov. 8 election, including photo ID requirements, deadlines, absentee voting and other topics. Submit your question in advance and join us online Thursday, Oct. 13 at 2:30 p.m.

Gary Scott : Good afternoon! Our General Registrar Cameron Sasnett is stuck in traffic on his way back from a meeting in Richmond. I'm the deputy general registrar and I'm joined by other members of the Office of Elections. We are looking forward to answering your questions.

Democrat Mom : I am concerned about Trump asking for poll watchers in many states. How will Fairfax County ensure that these Republican poll watchers do not intimidate or harrass people?

Gary Scott : To remain in the polling place, Poll Watchers must have an authorization form signed by the Fairfax County Republican or Democratic Party Chairs (not the Trump or the Clinton campaigns.)  Election Officers have the authority to remove any poll watcher who is hindering, intimidating, or interfering with the election process.  §§ 24.2-604 and 607.

David Flynn : I have been in Boston almost full time since July caring for my sister who is a Mass General Hospital leukemia patient. Is there any way I can cast an absentee ballot from here.m? I will not be able to come home until early Dec, but will do so if necessary in order to vote. Thank you

Gary Scott : You can vote absentee by mail. Information on how to do so and links to the necessary forms are posted on our website, If you need more info, please call us at 703-222-0776.

Neil Schlussel : I saw that the courts now allow "selfies" while voting. What restrictions are there on what they can Photograph in the selfie? How are we to police this new activity?

Gary Scott :

The use of electronic devices inside the polling place is generally permitted, i.e., voters may take “selfies.”  The Election Officers, however, may restrict the use of the device (camera) if it hinders, delays or disrupts the voting process or if it is used to intimidate another individual. Poll Watchers are prohibited from taking photos.   IVAC20-60-30.  

FLV : do you still need election workers?

Gary Scott : We have been overwhelmed with the level of interest in working at our polls this election! We have trained close to 4,000 election officers this year. However, we will need election officers for next year's election! For info go to

Danny Q : My plans changed and I won't be going out of town in November but I got a ballot to vote early. Can I still vote at my precinct?

Gary Scott : Yes. You must bring your unvoted absentee ballot with you to the precinct on Election Day. After turning in the absentee ballot, you will be able to vote a regular ballot.

AnnieK : When is the best time to vote to avoid the worst lines?

Gary Scott : Polling places in our county are most crowded during the morning and evening commuter hours. If you can be flexible, a good time to vote is usually mid-morning to mid-afternoon.

Mary : How many ex-felons have had their rights restored and registered to vote so far this year?

Gary Scott : We do not track information on individuals whose rights have been restored and then registered to vote. As of today, almost 34,000 absentee ballots have been issued by mail and over 9,000 people have voted in-person. This is running ahead of 2012.

Anonymous User : My entire family (6 of us) received the voter information mailing. Between this and the meals tax flyer, how much to this cost the county?

Gary Scott : In an effort to prepare Fairfax County voters for a lengthy ballot this November, the Office of Elections prepared a sample ballot mailing for every active registered voter in the county. This mailing also included important information on polling place location for Election Day. The cost was $124,000. The meals tax referendum mailing was prepared by the county and was sent to each household. The cost was approx. $80,000.

Maritza Zermeno : DMV is telling people that they are registered when they click "yes". (Franconia , Lorton) is this true? Maritza.

Gary Scott : When using the DMV online registration portal, the user is creating a registration application. The application goes into a "hopper" where it is reviewed and processed by the Office of Elections in the order in which it was received. The application is not complete until it is processed. A voter registration notice will be mailed to you.

I : How do I change my party before the election day?

Gary Scott : We do not register by party in Virginia. If your registration is current, there is nothing you need to do.

Fred Knowles : One of the Election Officers I recruited was rejected by the Republican Party. They told her she voted Democrat twice in the past. She does not remember doing that. How would they know how she voted? Are they perhaps referring to voting in a Primary? She does not remember doing that either. The Election Board told her she could re-register as an Independent and then be allowed to work the polls, which she did. But she and I both are very curious how either Party would know how someone voted.

Gary Scott : Political parties are entitled to lists of the voters who participated in their party’s primary elections and the parties use these lists to identify their “favorables.” Participation in any given election is a matter of public record.

However, no one knows who you voted for in an election.

OlderVoter : It has become difficult for me to get to my polling place at Annandale Terrace school since I do not drive anymore. Shouldn't all public polling places be accessible by public transportation?

Gary Scott : The selection of polling places is driven by the availability of facilities. Unfortunately, we cannot always have them close to public transportation. If you cannot drive or get to the poll because of a disability (or one of the other 18 reasons), you may want to consider absentee voting.  Information is at or call us at 703-222-0776.

anon : Can you explain to me what is meant by absentee voting.

Gary Scott : As opposed to early voting, if you meet one of Virginia's 19 reasons to absentee vote, you can vote by mail or go to one of our 10 in-person absentee voting locations. Absentee voting is an opportunity for our voters who cannot make it to their polling place on Election Day to be able to cast a ballot.  Absentee ballots are counted on election night after 7 p.m. when the polls close and are included with the results from our other 243 polling locations.

Anonymous User : I rechecked my voting registration on line using Common Cause. I am registered to vote, but I will be out of town and need to vote absentee ballot. Will I be able to vote absentee in person before the election on November 8 on a Saturday at my local Government Center? Thank you. This is democracy and communication in action!

Gary Scott : Yes. Beginning this Monday, October 17, in-person absentee voting will be available six days a week - weekdays at 9 locations and Saturdays at 10 locations. Our website,, has the information on locations and hours of operation. Saturday, November 5 at 5:00 p.m. is the deadline for voting in-person absentee.

Gil : When a DMV customer arrives at the counter they are asked if they want to register to vote. If the costo!er selects 'yes' the clerk says they are registered. Is this true or does the DMV send a pre-filled application to the customer address?

Gary Scott : DMV has changed their process to an online voter registration application. The user must complete the application by providing the required info. However, it is still an application until it is processed by the Office of Elections. There is no automatic voter registration in Virginia.

Gary Scott : Thank you for the great questions today!  We look forward to seeing you at one of our 243 poll locations on Nov. 8. Look for updates on Twitter at @fairfaxvotes and on our web page at