Apparent record turnout in Fairfax Co., and what voters forgot at the polls

FAIRFAX, Va. — The election isn’t over yet — even if it is clear who won the presidential race (and who left their ID at the polls).

Fairfax County was still counting the final votes and packing up voting machines on Monday. Electoral Board Secretary Kate Hanley said Fairfax County turnout appears to have set a record at 82.5 percent, even as statewide turnout appears to have been much lower.

“We’re finishing up,” Hanley said. “You’ve seen people taking equipment back to the warehouse, the Electoral Board itself is adjudicating provisionals, we’ve had people come in, bring their IDs, come in and tell us the circumstances by which they voted provisionally.”

Provisional ballots are cast when there is a question as to whether the voter is properly registered or otherwise eligible to vote.

“Most of them are pretty clear cut, they’re either on the voter rolls or they’re not, and of course we take great care with our provisionals because we want to be sure that everybody who has legitimately the right to have their vote counted gets their vote counted, so it takes some time and research,” Hanley said.

While some provisional voters may have forgotten to bring their ID to the polls, many other voters left their ID cards at the polls.

“If you can’t find your driver’s license, it’s been missing since Election Day and you voted, call us, because we’ve probably got it,” Hanley said. “We’re trying to notify those people.”

In Fairfax County, the number to call is 703-222-0776. Voters who may have left something at the polls in another jurisdiction should call election officials of that jurisdiction.

Other issues that led to some provisional ballots being cast included wrong names being checked off at times, and some continued issues with voter registration information not getting completely and quickly passed along from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The three-member local electoral board expects to certify final tallies in all races to the state on Tuesday. The State Board of Elections expects to certify the official statewide results next week.

Electoral College votes are cast next month.

The grueling process of double-checking vote counts and finalizing rulings on provisional ballots meant that when polls closed Tuesday, “it was just beginning for a bunch of us,” Hanley said.

“Election Day for the most part was incredibly smooth,” she said.

Fairfax County had issues with some electronic poll books not being updated with the last week or so of voter registration information, but Hanley said at least one book at each precinct had complete information.

She credits the new electronic poll books for speeding up the check-in process, something a commission she chaired a few years ago cited as a key to limiting lines. A large portion of voters casting absentee ballots helped as well.

Unusually, there were few, if any, lines in Fairfax County when polls closed this year.

“There was an early-morning rush, people started lining up at 5:30 a.m., but our new poll pads enabled those lines to dissipate quickly, so by about 9 o’clock, we didn’t have very many lines,” Hanley said.

Other factors Hanley cited for a smooth Election Day included schools being closed, additional investments in polling equipment in the county and the 3,200 or so election officers who spent a long day at the polls.

“It’s not just us, there are a whole lot of people involved, and they were all terrific,” she said.

And the county is ready to do it again in next year’s governor’s race.


Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up