There continues to be unprecedented early voting and mail-in voting in Fairfax County for the Nov. 3, 2020 election and there have been changes made in the voting process since the 2016 Presidential Election and even more recently by the General Assembly. Here are FAQs to assist you:
What are my options for voting?
There are three ways to vote. 1. By mail-in ballot (which can be delivered by mail or via ballot drop box). 2. Early in-person. 3. In-person on Election Day. An overview can be found here.
Where and when can I vote early in-person?
In addition to voting by mail, you can currently vote in-person at the Fairfax County Government Center, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Because of the limited locations, the voting line has been long. Please note these hours will change starting Oct. 14.
Also, on Oct.14, 14 additional early voting satellite locations will open. A complete list of early voting satellite locations and hours can be found here. The last day to vote early in-person is Saturday, Oct. 31.
Why weren't there more voting locations open earlier?
The Electoral Board, not the Board of Supervisors, has made the decision to open 14 early voting satellite locations, in addition to the Government Center, the Wednesday following the deadline to register to vote.
This year, the Office of Elections and the Electoral Board increased early voting satellite locations. This year's 14 additional early voting satellite locations is a significant increase from the nine satellite locations in the 2016 Presidential Election. To maximize their budget, the Office of Elections determined the best approach to early voting satellite locations for a county of our size was to have more sites open for a shorter period of time. This approach increases the presence of early voting satellite locations into more neighborhoods, closer to where people live. This was a decision made to make voting more accessible for the entire County. Please note that this is about one voting location per 51,000 registered voters.
At this point in time, we cannot add more early voting satellite locations. Fairfax County is restricted by the Code of Virginia from establishing any additional satellite voting locations, as the state requires jurisdictions to inform voters of these locations no later than 55 days before the General Election.
Can I trust that my mail-in ballot will get to the Office of Elections?
When returning an absentee ballot by mail, you should return it as soon as possible to allow as much time to return as possible. You can keep track of your mail-in ballot here.
Alternatively, you may return your mail-in ballot to a ballot drop-off box. They will be available at every early voting satellite location, but outside the voting room, only during the hours the polls are open. They will also be located at every precinct on Election Day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. There’s no need to wait in line and a poll worker will attend each box at all times.
There is also one 24-hour drop-box outside of the Fairfax County Government Center that is monitored by a security camera.
What do I need to know about voting by mail?
- Mail-in ballots that are postmarked on Election Day will be accepted and counted. They must however, be received by the Office of Elections by noon on the Friday (Nov. 6) immediately following the election.
- Ballots can be returned by mail or at a ballot drop-box.
- All ballots sent to voters by mail will have a prepaid return envelope. The Post Office will post mark pre-paid envelopes. Every envelope has an intelligent barcode printed on it which allows voters to check when an envelope was placed in the postal system.
- You DO NOT need a witness signature on your ballot, despite what the instructions say.
- Fill out your ballot in either blue or black pen ink.
- When filling out your name, use the name that is on the return address for returning the ballot (also on the addressee label originally mailed to you).
- More help on filling out your mail-in ballot can be found here.
What are ballot drop-off boxes?
Ballot drop-off boxes are secure boxes for you to return your completed mail-in ballot to. They will be available at every early voting satellite location, but outside the voting room, only during the hours the polls are open. They will also be located at every precinct on Election Day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. There’s no need to wait in line this way and a poll worker will attend each box at all times. There is also one 24-hour drop-box outside of the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax, that is monitored by a security camera.
If I already requested a mail-in/absentee ballot, but have decided to vote in-person, what do I do?
You may still vote in-person however you must bring the mail-in ballot with you in order to void the unused ballot. If you have lost or misplaced your absentee ballot, you may cast a provisional ballot at an early voting satellite location or on Election Day.
Is my early and mail-in ballot counted?
If you vote absentee or early, your ballot will be counted and reported on election night. The Fairfax County Office of Elections has a system in place to preprocess absentee ballots ahead of Election Day.
What safeguards are in place to ensure that only one ballot is counted per voter?
We have a thorough system in place to prevent voter fraud. Only one ballot per registered voter will be counted. Should an individual try to submit two, the computer system will catch this and the second is voided. Each absentee ballot must be returned in the provided return envelope that is marked by voter-specific identifying information, including their registered name, address and a barcode that can also be used by voters to track their ballot. The ballot information is then entered manually by elections staff into a records management system. This system will catch any attempt to enter more than one vote per registered voter, and will void a second ballot entry for that voter.
As an additional precaution, the General Registrar asks that voters return or destroy the extra ballot if they have received duplicate absentee ballots in the mail.
What is curbside voting?
Curbside voting is available for those who are 65-years-old or older, or any person with a physical disability. A phone number is posted outside of all voting locations that you can call if you need to vote curbside.
It is important to note that curbside voting does not put you at the front of the line. If you are voting at the Fairfax County Government Center, there is now a tent outside of the curbside voting area and election officers will take you in the order of the request. It can take some time to process each voter, so if you decide to vote at the Government Center, be prepared to wait.
What if my mail-in ballot is rejected because it is filled out incorrectly or is found to be incomplete?
The General Registrar will notify voters if their ballot has been rejected within three days of it being processed. The voter then has until noon Friday (Nov. 6), three days after Election Day, to submit a corrected ballot which will then be reported as part of the official count.