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Election 2014: Learn about New Voting Machines and Photo ID Requirements Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

Election 2014: Learn about New Voting Machines and Photo ID Requirements

Fairfax County General Registrar Cameron Quinn will take questions on the county’s new voting machines, which will be used in the upcoming November election, and the state’s new photo ID requirements, as well as any more general election questions voters may have.

Cameron Quinn : Good afternoon Fairfax County voters! It's going to be a busy fall with several key elections in November as well as our brand new voting equipment and the state's new photo ID requirements. Let's get started.

Anonymous User : Can you tell us about the new voting equipment that Fairfax County will have this fall?

Cameron Quinn : Our new voting machines are state of the art.  They have the ability to provide a paper trail for every vote cast, and are reliable and election ready. We also have new machines to better serve our voters with disabilities. We used the new machines in the Aug. 19 special  election and both election officers and voters loved them. Most voters couldn't see a difference. But for election officers, both the set up and close out were smoother and easier.
Voters will have the opportunity to “kick the tires” (not really) on these new machines. We will be out and about at locations across the county. Please check our web site for a list of events where the new machines will be features between now and Election Day.

an election officer : Will the new machines help simplify and speed up the poll closing process, especially the confusing handling of the paper tapes?

Cameron Quinn : YES!!! Now there will only be one tape, or two in large precincts. As I mentioned, the election officers in the Aug. 19 special election were all pleased with how easy the new machines are for set up and closing. We've been working in other ways to speed up election night returns. These will never be as quick as candidates and their avid supporters would like, but we feel that we are getting faster in making returns available to the public.

Bob C. : Why are there no paper receipts for voters confirming their ballot was scanned?

Cameron Quinn : The election industry and policy makers do not believe that receipts are necessary or appropriate. Any receipt that would confirm for a voter how their ballot was cast would also allow fraud to occur by providing the confirmation needed for someone to "sell" their vote. There were some prototypes that would provide receipts being marketed in  the early 2000s, but these companies disappeared when no one was interested in purchasing these products. Voters do receive an I Voted sticker, which confirms they voted. More importantly, the new machines allow all voters before they cast their ballot, including voters with disabilities who use the new ballot marking device, to confirm their selections. Additionally, the new machines let voters know if their ballot was not properly scanned by rejecting any ballot that is blank or over-voted. These safeguards should provide voters with sufficient confirmation.

Anonymous User : What's the story with Virginia's new photo ID law?

Cameron Quinn : As you know, Virginia has had an ID law that went into effect on July 1, 2014. The change that the legislature enacted requires a photo ID. Most voters have a required photo ID, but for those who do not, the Fairfax County Office of Elections, or any other Office of Elections statewide, will offer a free photo ID any time the office is open.  In Fairfax County, these will be available not just at our office but also at dozens of selected outreach sites. Additionally, all in-person absentee voting satellite locations will provide photo ID all hours they are open. These opportunities have already started.  Please look on our website for further information, or you can call 703-222-0776.

Anonymous User : I understand that there will be opportunity for voters without a photo ID to obtain one from Fairfax County Office of Elections and at various sites through their "Roadshow". What documentation must an applicant show to prove his/her identity in order to obtain the special voter photo ID card?

Cameron Quinn : State law requires no documentation. The voter is signing an oath that the information provided is accurate. A picture is taken and a signature is captured and these are saved by the system and used to generate the ID. Because a picture is taken, if it is later determined that a voter fraudulently applied for ID, for example, a DC  resident or noncitizen applied, then law enforcement would have some of the info needed to try to find and prosecute such a person.

Jan Reitman : At my precinct, Willston, senior voters come in carpools from some senior residences. I suspect many to not have current drivers lisence or other gov ID. Are you doing more outreach to avoid Election Day problems?

Cameron Quinn : We are also concerned about senior citizens that may no longer have valid photo ID. This is the biggest reason we are doing such enormous outreach across the county. Unfortunately, the state's newly renamed Department of Elections did not provide a tablet or other truly mobile solution in time for the upcoming November election. As a result, we can only provide photo ID opportunities at county facilities. You will note from our list at that we have selected libraries, human services facilities, senior centers and district governmental offices across the county to make this is as easy as we could. We are also working closely with retirement and assisted living facilities this fall to coordinate their efforts to get their residents who need them, a photo ID.  We anticipate by next fall, we will  be able to go to non-county facilities and retirement communities would be at the top of the list for such visits. Please refer anyone who has questions to 703-222-0776.

Anonymous User : I live in the county but work for Arlington Schools - just curious, is my school employee photo ID valid to use since it is a gov't ID (although not Fairfax)?

Cameron Quinn : Yes. Any government issued photo ID card from the federal government, or from Virginia state or local governments is valid. The most common forms we expect to see are DMV licenses or photo IDs, military ID cards, or US passports. In addition, any valid student ID issued by a public or private school of higher education in Virginia or a public high school in Virginia is acceptable.  For a full list, see the Virginia Department of Elections website at

Anonymous User : How can I help on election day?

Cameron Quinn : Easy. Become an election officer.  Fairfax County needs 2,700 election officers to operate local polls. We will train you, place you in or close to your neighborhood, and will pay you $175 for the day. We have special needs for people who are bi-lingual. Please consider helping us. Check with your employer to see if they will support your efforts by permitting you to take leave to support this important effort. 
Visit the website or call 703-324-4735 for more information.

Anonymous User : I heard I could register to vote online? Is this true?

Cameron Quinn : YES!!! Update your address or register online: Confirm you registration status; Please be sure your address is up to date or register to vote by Oct. 14. If applying online, you must already have a DMV license or photo ID and you will have until 11:59 p.m. to apply, otherwise the application needs to be received by 5 p.m. in any Virginia Office of Elections. If you mail through the US Post Office, it just needs a postmark of Oct. 14.

Cameron Quinn : We have run out of time without getting to several other issues that may be of interest. For further information about absentee voting or any other issues, please visit our website at or call us at 703-222-0776. This year Election Day is Nov. 4th.