Learn more about the Fairfax County Office of Elections and our procedures through a collection of commonly asked questions.
Learn more about the Fairfax County Office of Elections and our procedures through a collection of commonly asked questions.
1. Where can I find information on registering to vote?
Your best source for information about registering to vote is the Va. Dept. of Elections website.
2. Do we register by party in Virginia?
3. I registered to vote before my 18th birthday. Am I eligible to vote in the November election?
If you turn 18 on or before the date of the general election in November (first Tuesday in November), you may vote in the general election and also in a primary election for federal offices held prior to that election.
4. I lost my voter registration notice. Or: I submitted a voter registration application but did not receive a voter notification card. What can I do?
You may call, email, or visit our office and request a duplicate.
5. How do I check my voter registration record or update my address or name?
The easiest way is online through the Va. Dept. of Elections Citizen Portal. Alternately, you may complete a paper application. Download one here or find a an application at libraries, Board of Supervisor offices, and at our office. For more information on voter registration, visit the Va. Dept. of Elections website.
6. My daughter is away at college. Can I register her to vote?
No! A voter must complete their own application. It is a felony to impersonate someone else on an election document. She may register to vote in the county/town where she is living while attending school or in Fairfax County using her family’s home address.
7. I am moving out of Fairfax County to another county in Virginia. How do I change my voter registration address?
You may do this online through the Virginia Citizen Portal. Alternately, complete a paper copy of a voter registration application to register to vote when you arrive in your new county. This will automatically cancel your registration in Fairfax County.
8. I am moving out of state. How do I cancel my voter registration?
On this page download the “Request to Cancel Voter Registration” form to complete and mail or email (Voting@fairfaxcounty.gov) to our office.
9. I heard Virginia now offers “same day voter registration.”
To vote by placing your ballot in the voting machine yourself or to vote an absentee ballot by mail, you must register before the normal deadline (“close of books”), which is 22 days before an election. Virginia Code § 24.2-416
After that date, Virginia offers same day registration (SDR) at voting locations as an option for residents who were unable to register before the deadline. At the time they register, these voters must vote a provisional ballot for consideration after election day by the Fairfax County Electoral Board, which means their votes are not included in the election night results. Virginia Code § 24.2-420.1
10. How does same day registration (SDR) work?
After the normal deadline to register to vote (22 days before an election), Virginia citizens may complete a voter registration form at an early voting location, or on election day at the polling location for the precinct in which they reside and cast a provisional ballot. Virginia law requires a voter on election day to cast their ballot at their precinct polling place.
After completing a voter registration form, same day registration (SDR) voters mark a ballot, seal it in a provisional ballot envelope, then complete the required information on the outside of the envelope.
Provisional ballot envelopes are reviewed and adjudicated in the days following the election, and the Electoral Board determines which are to be counted. For the SDR ballot to be considered, both the voter registration form and the provisional ballot envelope must be completed fully and correctly.
To place your ballot in the voting machine yourself or to vote absentee, you must register to vote prior to the normal deadline, 22 days before an election.
11. To save time, may I register online after the normal deadline then go to a precinct and vote a provisional ballot?
No. All online (and mailed) registration applications submitted after the normal deadline are not processed until after election day. To register after the deadline, you must do so at a voting location and immediately vote a provisional ballot.
1. What are the rules for keeping voter registration lists current?
There are several laws regarding voter registration lists that we follow. Read them here. The Va. Dept. of Elections provides additional information here on how Virginia maintains voter lists.
2. If someone doesn’t vote in elections for many years, will they be made inactive or removed from the voter list?
No. There is no requirement for a registered voter to vote.
3. What is an “inactive voter?”
This is a voter who we suspect has moved because their election mail has been returned as “undeliverable” or “return to sender” and they haven’t responded to a letter asking them to confirm their address. Alternately, the voter may have appeared in the National Change of Address or other database provided to the Va. Dept. of Elections that indicates that they have moved.
If an inactive voter does not vote for two federal general elections, they will be removed from the voter list.
4. Can an “inactive” voter become active again?
Yes. They either complete an Affirmation of Eligibility form at the polling place when they go to vote, declaring they are a qualified and registered voter, or they submit a new voter registration form.
5. How does the Virginia Department of Elections conduct annual address matches for the list of registered voters?
Pursuant to Va. Code § 24.2-428 and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), the Va. Dept. of Elections conducts an annual address match of Virginia’s voters against the data provided by the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which includes the records in the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address (NCOA) registry. The NCOA database catalogs change of address requests submitted by individuals to the USPS when moving. Voters identified as possible movers are sent a confirmation mailing by forwardable mail to their last known Virginia address asking the voter to either verify their residential address or request cancellation of their Virginia voter registration.
6. How do address confirmation mailings work?
Address confirmation mailings include a postage prepaid envelope and a form for voters to use to confirm whether their address did or did not change, or to request that the general registrar cancel their registration, as appropriate.
7. What happens after a voter becomes ‘inactive’ as a result of the confirmation process?
Following each federal general election, the Va. Dept. of Elections cancels individuals who have been on the inactive list without voting in two federal general elections.
Voters who have been designated as “Inactive” through the confirmation process may still cast a ballot on Election Day, under certain conditions. These voters are required to sign a statement declaring they are a qualified and registered voter of the precinct at which they are present. They will be added to the pollbook by officers of election and permitted to vote. Their status in the statewide database will be changed automatically to “active.”
8. Are there any other methods used by the Va. Dept. of Elections in the confirmation and cancellation process for the voter lists?
In addition to the processes outlined above, when the Va. Dept. of Elections receives information from federal or state agencies regarding a voter’s qualifications to vote as registered have changed, the local general registrar is notified through the statewide database to take action.
9. What do I do with election mail I receive that is addressed to someone who does not live at my address?
Write on the front of the envelope “Return to Sender – Not at this address” and give to the mail carrier to return to us. Alternately, place it (with the note written on the front) inside another envelope and mail to the Fairfax County Office of Elections.
By returning mail to us, you are providing official confirmation that that the address for a voter is incorrect or no longer valid and enabling us to take action.
Only when we receive mail marked undeliverable or “return to sender,” are we able to flag the voter in the statewide database to receive an address confirmation mailing from the Department of Elections. We may only update a voter’s address or immediately remove someone from the voter list after we receive a signed statement or official form from the voter stating they have moved.
Be aware that overseas and military voters use the address of their last residence in Virginia as their voter registration address, regardless of the number of years they have lived overseas. Virginia Code 24.2-456. So it is possible that you could receive election mail for someone who no longer lives at your address but who is still a qualified voter.
10. What does the Fairfax County Office of Elections do with undeliverable mail?
When election mail is returned to our office as “undeliverable” or “return to sender” by the Post Office, our voter registration staff make an entry in the voter’s record on the statewide voter database (VERIS) that flags the voter for inclusion in the next address confirmation mailing. Additionally, the front of the envelope is scanned and uploaded to the voter’s record in VERIS.
11. What does an individual voter need to do to be removed from the list of registered voters?
Individual voters must submit a signed request to have their voter registration cancelled. When a completed official Request to Cancel Voter Registration form is received in our office, the voter’s registration is cancelled. We send a cancellation confirmation letter to the voter’s residence address.
12. What happens if a registered voter responds “No” to the citizenship question when completing a form for the DMV?
Va. Code § 24.2-410.1 requires the DMV to ask all customers to identify their citizenship status. On a monthly basis, the DMV shares the list of individuals who responded “No” to the citizenship question with the Va. Dept. of Elections. The list is compared to the list of existing registered voters, and any potential matches are provided to the appropriate local general registrar for further review and processing.
Through the statewide voter database (VERIS), Va. Dept. of Elections provides us each month with a list of individuals who responded “No” to the DMV citizenship question. Based on state law, we send these individuals a Notice of Intent to Cancel letter along with an Affirmation of Citizenship form. If an individual does not return a signed Affirmation within 14 days VERIS automatically removes them from the list of registered voters. If the individual is a citizen entitled to vote in Fairfax County and they did not return the Affirmation during the required time period, they may complete a new voter registration form in the future.
13. How are deceased individuals removed from the list of registered voters?
Pursuant to Va. Code § 24.2-404.3 and 24.2-408, the Virginia Department of Elections is required ensure that voters who have died are removed from the voter registration list in a timely manner. The Code of Virginia § 24.2-404.3 requires the Virginia Department of Elections to conduct a match of the voter registration list against the list of deceased persons maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA distributes its death records through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service (NTIS). The Code of Virginia § 24.2-408 requires the Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS) at the Virginia Department of Health to provide the Virginia Department of Elections a monthly list of those who have died in the previous month. Currently, the BVS uploads a monthly file to the Virginia Department of Elections containing these records.
Each month, the data from NTIS and BVS is loaded into the Virginia voter registration system (VERIS). The records are matched automatically against existing registered voters. Any potential matches are provided to the responsible local general registrar for further review and processing. The Department of Elections also receives a death report from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). ERIC also subscribes to the NTIS data and compares Virginia’s data to the SSA data.
Each month, the Virginia Department of Elections uses VERIS to provide Fairfax County and other localities in the Commonwealth of Virginia the names of deceased individuals on their voter lists for local general registrars to remove from the list of registered voters.
Additionally, the local general registrar’s office may cancel a voter when an death certificate is presented.
VERIS generates a cancellation letter expressing condolences to “The Family of” the deceased former voter for the local general registrar’s office to print and mail.
14. How are mentally incapacitated voters removed from the list of registered voters?
Pursuant to Va. Code § 24.2-410, the clerks of the Circuit Courts send Va. Dept. of Elections a paper-based monthly report indicating any individuals who were adjudicated mentally incapacitated. Each month, we receive this information from the Circuit Court then we take the appropriate action to remove individuals from the list of registered voters.
15. How do the political parties, organizations, and candidates get my name and know that I am a voter?
Virginia law allows certain groups and individuals, including political parties, candidates, certain non-profit organizations, and incumbent officeholders, to obtain voter lists and lists of people who voted in a given election for use with political activity. Va. Code §24.2-405, 406
1. I registered to vote before my 18th birthday. Am I eligible to vote in the November election?
If you turn 18 on or before the date of the general election in November (the first Tuesday in November), you may vote in the general election, and you may vote in a primary election for federal offices held that year before that election.
2. Do I need a photo ID to vote?
No, you do not need a photo ID to vote in person, but you do need an ID to check in normally. Click here to see what IDs are acceptable.
3. What if I don’t have an ID with me?
If you don’t have an acceptable ID, you may complete an ID Confirmation Statement, which serves as an acceptable ID and will allow you to check in and vote routinely. Alternately, you may vote a provisional ballot and provide a copy of your ID to the Office of Elections before noon on the Friday after the election.
However, first-time voters in a federal election who registered by mail are required by federal law to present an ID. Va. Code § 24.2-701.1.
4. How do I find out where I vote on election day?
On the Dept. of Elections Citizen Portal, click “Find your polling place.” On election day, you must vote at the polling place where you are registered to vote.
5. I moved. Do I vote on election day at the voting location where I used to live or where I live now?
You need to go to the voting location where you are registered to vote. Look up your voter information on the Va. Dept. of Elections Citizen Portal.
Ask the election officer for a voter registration application to update your address. You may complete it there and leave it with the chief election officer to turn in.
6. I requested an absentee ballot. May I vote in person instead, either early or on election day?
7. What accommodations do you have for disabled voters?
All polling locations (early voting and election day) offer:
If you require assistance at the polling place, someone may help you with your ballot after you both complete and sign the Request for Assistance form, available at the polling location. If you do not have an assistant with you, you may ask an election officer to serve as your assistant.
8. Marking a ballot is difficult for me. May I bring someone with me to help? Or to translate?
Yes. They will be required to complete a Request for Assistance form before they may assist you.
Va. Code § 24.2-649
9. Do I need to vote for every contest on the ballot? Or may I leave some blank?
You don’t need to vote for someone in every contest or mark every issue on the ballot. Your ballot will be accepted, and only the votes you marked will be tallied.
10. If I make a mistake on my ballot, what do I do?
Write “Spoiled” across your ballot and take it to an election officer to exchange for a new one.
11. May I bring my children into the voting booth with me?
Yes, if they are aged 15 or younger. Older children are allowed in the voting room but must sign a Request for Assistance form to accompany a voter into the voting booth or provide assistance.
12. May I take a selfie of myself voting? And a picture of my voted ballot?
Yes, but you may not include any other voter in the photograph without their permission.
13. Must I be inside the polling place on election day before 7 p.m. to be allowed to vote?
Not necessarily. Anyone in line or inside the polling place [building] making their way to the voting room at 7 p.m. is permitted to vote.
14. Why are ballots in four languages?
Ballots are in multiple languages because Fairfax County meets the state and federal thresholds for providing voting materials in Spanish and Vietnamese, and is borderline for the requirement for Korean.
16. How many precincts are there in Fairfax County?
Fairfax County has about 750,000 active voters in 264 precincts. We are the largest jurisdiction in the state. You may see registration statistics here.
1. Where can I vote early in person?
For early voting locations and schedules, click here. Unlike election day voting, anyone may vote at any location.
2. Do I need a reason to vote early in person?
No. Any voter registered in Fairfax County may vote early. Students registered in Fairfax County may return from school in another county or state to vote early.
3. Do I need to fill out an absentee application if I plan to vote early in person?
No, an absentee ballot application is not used for early voting.
However, to vote normally, you will need to provide your name and address and present an acceptable ID, just as you would at your polling place on election day. If you don’t have an acceptable ID, you may complete an ID Confirmation Statement, which serves as an acceptable ID and will allow you to check in and vote routinely. Alternately, you may vote a provisional ballot and provide a copy of your ID to the Office of Elections before noon on the Friday after the election.
4. If I vote early in person at one of the early voting locations, when is my ballot counted?
Your ballot is counted when you feed it into the digital scan voting machine. However, the votes on the voting machines are not tallied until election day and are not reported until after 7 p.m. on election night.
1. Who may vote absentee by mail?
Anyone registered to vote in Fairfax County may vote absentee by mail. No excuse or reason is needed. Once you have verified your registration status, you may apply online or complete a paper Virginia Vote by Mail Application form and email or mail it to our office. AbsenteeBallot@fairfaxcounty.gov.
Likewise, anyone registered to vote in Fairfax County may vote early in person. No application, excuse, or reason is needed. If you plan to vote early in person, please do not apply to vote an absentee ballot by mail.
2. Must I request an absentee ballot for each election?
Not necessarily. When you complete your absentee ballot application, you are asked: “Do you want to vote by mail for all future elections?” If you check “Yes,” you will receive a ballot for every election in which you are qualified to vote. If you check “No,” you must submit a new application before every election.
3. I have power of attorney for a voter. May I request an absentee ballot and sign voting documents on behalf of the voter?
No. Va Code §24.2-123 prohibits a voter’s power of attorney from signing a voter registration or absentee ballot application, signing for the voter on the Statement of Absentee Voter, or voting in person on behalf of the voter.
If the voter needs assistance completing their ballot, a Request for Assistance form must be completed and returned with the ballot. If you didn’t receive the form with your ballot, you may download it here.
4. What is the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot?
The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is 5 p.m. on the Friday eleven days before the election. See the exact deadline for the upcoming election here.
5. When will I receive my ballot? How do I know if and when my marked ballot is received in your office?
The first ballots are mailed 45 days before the election to voters who have applied to vote by mail. Allow 7-9 business days for your ballot to arrive. After the first mail-out, ballots are mailed within three business days of an application being received and approved.
You may check the status of your application and your ballot in the Va. Dept. of Elections Citizen Portal.
You may track your ballot through the USPS mail system by using BallotTrax.
6. May I have my ballot sent to a different address within Fairfax County?
No, unless it is being sent to a hospital, rehab facility, or detention center where you live temporarily. Otherwise, if the ballot mailing address is not your voter registration address, it must be an address outside Fairfax County. Your ballot may be mailed to your school address only if it is located outside Fairfax County.
7. Must I provide my full Social Security number on my absentee ballot application?
Va. Code §24.2-701 requires you to provide the last four digits of your SSN unless you are completing the application (and voting) in person in the Office of Elections. This helps ensure we locate your voter record. You are unique, but your name may not be.
8. Do I need to provide a copy of my ID?
Normally, no. If you need to provide a copy of your ID (as required by federal law for some first time voters), you will find a notice in the envelope with your voting materials explaining this. To read about this law regarding special federal ID requirements for certain first time absentee voters, click here.
9. I live overseas. May I still vote?
Yes! Click here for information.
10. What do I do if I do not receive my ballot?
Allow 7 business days for your ballot to arrive after it was mailed. If you do not receive it within this timeframe, contact us: at 703-324-4969 (TTY 711) or AbsenteeVoting@fairfaxcounty.gov. Type “reissue” in the subject line of your email to us and confirm your voter registration address in your message.
11. How can a voter be removed from the permanent absentee application list?
If you want to be removed from the permanent absentee application list so that you no longer receive an absentee ballot in the mail automatically, you must notify us in writing. Complete this form and mail or email to us.
Otherwise, permanent absentee application voters may only be removed from the list when their voter registration is canceled, their voter registration is placed on inactive status, or if they move to a different address not in the same county (or city) in which they are registered. Virginia Code § 24.2-703.1.
1. How do I return my ballot?
There are four ways to return your absentee ballot:
Click here for more information on how to return your ballot.
Important! To be accepted, your ballot must be sealed inside the return mailer with the Statement of Absentee Voter completely filled out with your full name, voter registration address, your signature, and a witness signature.
2. I am concerned about mailing my ballot in the envelope with my signature on the outside. What can I do?
You may place the return mailer containing the ballot inside another envelope and mail it to us, or
you may place your return mailer in a Fairfax County drop box.
3. How do I know when my ballot has been mailed? How do I know if and when my marked ballot is received in your office?
After your absentee ballot application is approved and after ballots have been printed (45 days before the election), your ballot is mailed within three business days.
When your ballot is issued and when the Office of Elections receives your marked ballot are indicated on your record in the statewide voter database. To view this, visit your voter registration page on the Virginia Citizen Portal.
Additionally, you may track your ballot through BallotTrax.
4. What do I do if I do not receive my ballot? Allow 7 business days for your ballot to arrive after it was mailed. If you do not receive it within this timeframe, contact us at 703-324-4969 (TTY 711) or AbsenteeVoting@fairfaxcounty.gov. Type “reissue” in the subject line of your email to us and confirm your voter registration address in your message.
Alternately, you may vote a provisional ballot early in person.
If you have mailed your ballot and are concerned it will not arrive before noon on the Friday following election day, you may go to an early voting location or, on election day, to the precinct where you are registered and vote a provisional ballot. If your absentee ballot arrives by noon on the Friday after election day, your provisional ballot will be voided.
5. Is it OK to return two ballots inside one return mailer?
Only one voter and one marked ballot per return mailer! If two ballots arrive in one return mailer, both must be voided.
6. Can someone deposit a ballot in a drop box for a spouse, family member, or friend?
Voters are permitted to place more than one voted absentee ballot in a drop box.
7. May I vote in person instead?
Yes. If you received your ballot, be sure to take it with you to the polling location. If you don’t have your ballot with you, you will be offered a provisional ballot. If you do not also return your absentee mail ballot, then staff will recommend to the Electoral Board that your provisional ballot be counted.
8. What if I forgot to fully complete the Statement of Absentee Voter on the back of the return mailer?
We will send you a letter or, if an email address is included in your voter record, an email with instructions on how you may “cure” your voter statement. You will have until noon on the Friday after election day to fix the problem so that your ballot may be counted. If the Statement of Voter is not completed correctly, your ballot cannot be counted. Ballots must arrive by the Friday before election day to qualify for “curing.” Va. Code § 24.2-709.1
1. May I request an absentee ballot if I am attending school outside Fairfax County?
Yes! However, you may only have your ballot mailed to your school address if your school is located outside of Fairfax County. Alternately, you may have it mailed to your home address, where you are registered to vote.
Important! The Statement of Absentee Voter must be completed using your voter registration address -- this is where you are registered to vote in Fairfax County, not your school address.
2. Can I just email my marked ballot to you? Can I vote online?
3. Can my parents request an absentee ballot for me while I attend school?
No, only the voter may request—and only the voter may vote — their absentee ballot. Signing an absentee ballot application as another voter is a Class 4 felony, as is signing the Statement of Voter or marking a ballot for a voter who doesn’t require assistance due to a disability.
1. Are absentee ballots always counted?
Yes! If the Statement of Absentee Voter is fully completed on the return mailer and the return mailer arrives by the deadline, the absentee ballot is counted. The deadline for receiving the ballot depends on the method used to return it. Click here for details.
2. How do I ensure my absentee ballot will be counted?
3. When do you start counting absentee ballots?
Depending on the number of ballots received, we begin counting absentee ballots at least a week before election day. In this pre-processing operation, envelopes with the Statement of Absentee Voter properly completed are opened, and the ballots are removed for tallying.
Ballots are read and tallied by a digital scan voting machine. Ballots that cannot be scanned are securely stored to be hand-counted. Counted ballots are sealed with tamper-evident tape in labeled boxes and stored securely for transfer to the Fairfax County courthouse.
1. Why is there a small hole in the return mailer?
2. I live alone and do not have anyone to act as my witness. What should I do?
3. We lost the Request for Assistance form that was enclosed in my spouse’s ballot. What should we do?
You may download a form here. Or you may call us at 703-324-4969 (TTY 711) or email us at AbsenteeVoting@FairfaxCounty.gov. We can email or mail you another form.
4. What happens if my ballot is lost or damaged, or I make a mistake marking it?
You have a few options:
5. I think I received the wrong ballot. What do I do?
6. I received two ballots. What now?
Vote and return only one ballot. You may simply tear up and dispose of the other ballot. Per Virginia Code § 24.2-1004, you may only cast one ballot.
Because we indicate in the Virginia statewide voter database the issuance and receipt of every absentee ballot, as well as when a ballot cast was cast in person, it is not possible for us to accept and count more than one ballot from a voter.
It is a Class 6 felony for voters to cast two ballots for the same election. Virginia Code § 24.2-1004 . (There is an exception for overseas and military voters, who may submit a special federal ballot in addition to their state ballot.)
7. How do I change the mailing address for my ballot? Can you just change or correct it for me?
Sorry, no, we cannot change the information on your application. Ballots must be sent to the exact address that you provide. You must submit another absentee ballot application or a change form to change the address. To submit another application online, click here. To download a Virginia Permanent Absentee Ballot Change Application, click here.
1. I live overseas. What is the best way to receive a ballot?
2. When are ballots mailed and/or emailed to voters living outside the U.S.?
If you submitted your absentee ballot application earlier than seven weeks before the election, your ballot will be mailed or emailed soon after ballots are printed, about 45 days before election day.
If you submitted your absentee ballot application within 45 days of the election, your ballot will be mailed or emailed within three business days of your application being approved.
3. How do I know when my ballot is mailed or emailed? How do I know if and when my marked ballot is received in your office?
The dates your ballot is issued and received by the Office of Elections are marked on your record in the statewide voter database. To view this, visit your voter registration page on the Virginia Citizen Portal.
Overseas voters should not try to track their ballots through the ballot tracking function on the Fairfax County Office of Elections or the Virginia state website. Ballots mailed or returned from international or DPO/APO/FPO addresses cannot be tracked by the USPS.
4. My ballot has not arrived. What should I do?
If you selected to have your ballot mailed to you, then the ballot is likely still in the postal system. Overseas mail delivery time is very slow. Once a ballot enters the mail system, we have no control over delivery. You might consider changing the ballot delivery method to “email” by submitting a new application/FPCA. We can reissue your ballot by mail, however, keep in mind that it will face the same delivery delays, and the time for getting the ballot back to us will be shortened.
Check your junk email folder if you opted to have your ballot emailed to you. If you did not receive it, email us: AbsenteeVoting@fairfaxcounty.gov.
You may submit a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). This is a backup ballot for overseas voters. Be sure to read and follow the instructions for Virginia. If we receive a state ballot from you, your FWAB will be voided.
5. May I submit a Federal Write-in Ballot (FWAB) without applying for an absentee ballot?
6. My spouse and I both requested absentee ballots by email. One email arrived but the other did not. Can we just print two copies of the emailed ballot materials so both of us can vote?
You may do this only if your spouse was issued an absentee ballot to be delivered by email. If one of you requested your ballot delivered by mail, or if one person’s application wasn’t approved, then the ballot from that person will not be counted.
When two voters provide the same email address on their applications, only one email will be sent, so it will seem that only one person received a ballot. In which case, print two copies of the ballot and voting material.
7. May I just print copies of the emailed ballot and materials for my friends and family members, so they don’t have to bother to apply for an absentee ballot?
No. Marked ballots returned by people who did not request an absentee ballot are voided upon arrival.
8. I selected to have my ballot mailed to me. Can you email it to me instead?
You must submit a new, revised FPCA (Federal Postcard Application) to change the ballot delivery method. Print, sign, scan and email your new FPCA form to: AbsenteeBallot@fairfaxcounty.gov.
9. My email address has changed since I submitted my FPCA (Federal Postcard Application). Can you email my absentee ballot to another address?
We can only send a ballot to the address you specify on your application, so you must submit a new, revised FPCA to change the email address. Print, sign, and scan your new FPCA form then email to AbsenteeBallot@fairfaxcounty.gov.
10. I am concerned your office will not receive my marked ballot before the deadline. What can I do?
Return your ballot by commercial delivery service, such as DHL, FedEx, or UPS. Allow plenty of time for it to reach us. It needs to be “postmarked” before 7 pm Virginia time on election day and arrive in our office by noon on the Friday following the election.
You may submit a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). This is a backup ballot for overseas voters. This ballot allows you to cast your vote for candidates in federal, state, and local elections, including ballot measures. Read and follow the instructions for Virginia. The ballot still must reach us by the Friday noon deadline.
11. May I just email my marked ballot to you? Can I vote online?
12. May I return my ballot by FedEx, DHL, or UPS?
Yes! And we encourage overseas voters to consider using such delivery services. Because international mail can be unbelievably slow and unreliable, a commercial delivery service is your best bet.
13. I’m going to be visiting the States around the time of the election. May I vote in person instead?
Yes. You will need to vote a provisional ballot. If an absentee ballot is not received from you by noon the Friday after the election, then staff will recommend to the Electoral Board that your ballot be counted.
1. I am concerned about voter fraud. How do you prevent someone from voting twice? When someone votes—whether early in person, by mail, or on election day—this is recorded on the voter’s record in the Virginia statewide voter database (VERIS). The database does not allow us to record the receipt of more than one ballot per election and clearly indicates when someone has already cast a ballot.
Provisional ballots are handled, tracked, and counted separately from other ballots. The Electoral Board will determine the eligibility of voters who voted provisionally and the qualifications of those ballots at a closed meeting after the election.
Anyone attempting to vote more than once in the same election is reported for possible criminal prosecution as a Class 6 felony per Virginia law § 24.2-1004. (There is an exception for overseas and military voters who may submit a special federal ballot in addition to their state ballot.)
2. I’ve heard of people receiving more than one absentee ballot. Isn’t this against the law? Can they vote twice?
It is not against the law to be in possession of more than one absentee ballot. This can happen when a replacement ballot is mailed to a voter who lost or did not receive their original one, then the original ballot is found. It is important to note that we have safeguards that allow only one ballot per voter to be checked in on the statewide database for an election, so it is not possible for the voter to have more than one ballot counted. After the first ballot is returned, subsequent returned ballots are voided.
Anyone attempting to vote more than once in the same election is reported for possible criminal prosecution as a Class 6 felony per Virginia law § 24.2-1004. (There is an exception for overseas and military voters who may submit a special federal ballot in addition to their state ballot.)
3. How are drop boxes secured?
4. What backups are in place should something happen to the ballot scanners or ballots?
Each polling location has multiple ballot scanners. Should one scanner become temporarily or permanently inoperable during the day, voting can continue using the other ballot scanners.
If a ballot scanner becomes inoperable and it is not possible to obtain the voting results from this machine, the paper ballots can be re-scanned using a different scanner. Any re-scanning of ballots is performed in an open process with authorized representatives of political parties or candidates welcomed to observe.
5. How can you be certain that only ballots issued to voters are scanned by the voting machines?
An election officer is posted at or near each voting machine while voting is taking place.
During the day and when polls close, the number of voters checked in on the electronic pollbooks is verified against the number of ballots scanned. (The number of ballots scanned is continuously displayed on the voting machine.) These numbers should match. The number of ballots and voters are reported after polls close on official forms that the election officers must sign.
6. How is the election night paperwork (Statement of Results) checked for completeness and accuracy?
The day after the election, the Fairfax County Electoral Board meets to ascertain the results. Teams of two people representing the Democratic and Republican parties review the materials from each precinct. Official representatives from political parties and independent candidates on the ballot may observe the process and each team. Va. Code § 24.2-671
7. Does Virginia conduct post-election risk-limiting audits?
Yes. Read about them here: Va. Code §24.2-671.1 Fairfax County participated in the risk-limiting audit of the 2020 general election. Read audit reports here.
1. How are voting machines certified?
Virginia and the federal government each have their own certification requirements for voting machines. See Virginia Voting System Certification Standard
2. What is the process for configuring voting machines for an election?
After maintenance—physical cleaning and software reset—is conducted on the machines, a USB flash drive containing the election configuration file is inserted into each machine. The configuration file enables the machine to read and tally a ballot for only that election, rejecting any others. Each USB flash drive is paired to a specific machine using a bar code system.
3. How are voting machines tested?
Each voting machine undergoes a strict, structured testing protocol. It is tested for logic (the ability to scan and read a ballot) and for accuracy (the ability to tabulate correctly). Authorized representatives of parties or candidates are invited to observe voting machine testing.
4. Are the voting machines connected to the internet or do they have any wireless capability?
No, the DS200 ballot scanners used in Fairfax County do not have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, modems, or other wireless connectivity of any kind.
5. How are voting machines secured after the logic and accuracy (L&A) test?
Each voting machine is locked and secured with multiple numbered tamper-proof seals. These seal numbers are recorded on a log that the election officers use on election day to confirm that seals have not been changed before they open and use the voting equipment. The machines are stored securely until they are delivered to the polling locations.
6. What voting information is on the USB flash drive after voting is complete?
The USB flash drives contain the votes cast, the number of ballots cast, and an image of every ballot scanned by the voting machine.
7. How are USB flash drives from voting machines in polling places secured after the polls close?
After polls close and the voting machines print results tapes, USB flash drives containing voting results are removed from the voting machines by a pair of election officers. The USB flash drives are secured in a special pouch (assigned specifically to a precinct) with a numbered tamper-proof seal.
Immediately after polls close and the voting machines are secured, two election officers drive the pouches containing the USB flash drives to the Fairfax County Government Center, where election officials receive them.
The USB flash drives are logged in by elections staff, who import the data into a secure election computer to produce results reports.
All USB flash drives are turned over to the Clerk of the Court for secure storage.
8. The secure election computer that is used to produce results reports from the voting machine USB flash drives —is it connected to the internet?
No. The secure election computer is “air gapped” and never connected to the internet or other computers connected to the internet.
1. What happens to voted ballots when polls close?
After polls close on election night, voted and un-voted ballots are boxed separately. Boxes containing voted ballots are labeled to identify precinct and machine number, sealed with tamper-evident tape, then election officer signature seals are applied. Boxes containing un-voted ballots are taped closed, and signature seals are applied.
Both voted, and un-voted ballots are transported by the chief election officer to a collection site where the clerk of the court receives them. They are immediately loaded onto a truck designated for the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse and escorted to a secure location by the Sheriff’s Department. Code of Virginia § 24.2-668.
Boxes of ballots from early voting locations are transported to the Fairfax County Government Center when early voting ends for inventory and secure storage until election night when they are turned over to the clerk of the court.
2. What is the process for emptying drop boxes and moving ballots to the Office of Elections?
A strict procedure is followed to ensure that the Office of Elections receives every ballot in a drop box.
3. How do we know all absentee ballots returned to the Office of Elections are accounted for?
When ballot envelopes are received in the office, either through the mail, drop box, or in person, they are sorted, counted, date- and time-stamped, bundled by date received, and placed in a specifically colored mail tray marked with a tracking ID affixed. The count is recorded on a tracking sheet and a master tracking log.
As the bundle of ballot envelopes moves through the processing operations, the count is checked and recorded at each step.
Finally, when ballots are scanned, the number of ballots scanned is checked against the tracking sheet included with a batch of ballots.
4. How long are voted ballots kept at the courthouse?
Voted ballots for federal elections are retained for two years, and those containing only county, state, and/or town elections are stored for one year. Va. Code § 24.2-669
1. Where can I learn more about election security in Virginia?
Learn about the bigger picture of election security measures and protocols from the Va. Dept of Elections. See also Myth Busters – Separating Election Fact from Fiction.
2. Where can I read Virginia’s election laws?
You may read them here.
3. How do I submit a request for election records under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA)?
All requests for election records should be submitted through the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs (OPA).
In order not to compromise the security of the elections, some records are exempt from release under Va. Code 24.2-625.1.
12000 Government Center Pkwy
Fairfax, VA 22035