Bulova Wants Review of Voting Efficiency

Fairfax County Supervisor says group should look at long waiting times at some polling spots and recommend ways to improve.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova says she will recommend a commission to look ways to improve the county's efficiency on Election Day.

Bulova says she was concerned about long lines, wait times and other voting issues.

Voter turnout for the 2012 election in Fairfax County was 80.5 percent. In the last presidential election, the turnout was 78.7 percent (with 72,501 fewer registered voters than today), county officials said.

Lines and waits varied widely in Fairfax County.

Bulova says she waited just 20 minutes at Villa precinct Tuesday morning at about 8 a.m.

At other locations, though, voters reported waits of over an hour. The last vote in Fairfax County was cast at 10:30 p.m. at the Skyline precinct in Bailey's Crossroads, which means voters in line by 7 p.m. had to wait three-and-a-half hours before finally casting their ballots, county officials said.

“While all together the day went well, I think it would be beneficial to examine what lessons we can learn from the 2012 Election,”  Bulova said in a statement. “I plan to present this issue to the Board of Supervisors at our next meeting and suggest the formation of a bipartisan commission to identify ways to reduce lines, decrease wait times, and streamline our election process.”

The next Board of Supervisors meeting takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

John Farrell, Reston resident and general counsel for the Fairfax County Democrats, says he is opposed to a task force. He says the Board of Supervisors has little influence over the state board of elections, but there are changes the BOS is authorized to make that could impact the process immediately.

"A task force is a way to get nothing done for an extended period of time," he said.

He suggests immediate ways the Board of Supervisors can impact the process, such as: redrawing precincts; funds for replacing faulty touch screens with optical scan machines; increasing pay for election officers from $100 to $125 a day; and auditing of the mail-in absentee process.


Kathy Keith November 11, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Here are some things Fairfax county could have done to alleviate long lines: Advertise the bonds and amendments better. My observation: some people took an extremely long time at the machines and clearly didn't know how they wanted to vote. I realize that the Dems and Reps handed out sample ballots--but it appeared to me that lots and lots of people had never even thought about how they wanted to vote on these issues. While waiting, I saw one woman look at the election officer in confusion and ask "What does this mean?" He told her that he could not advise her. I wanted to scream--"If you don't know, just skip it!" Also, she had a sample ballot in her hand--I guess she didn't look at it until she got in the booth, even though she had been waiting in line for some time. My precinct encouraged people waiting in line to use the paper ballot if they didn't want to wait. My precinct had several tables with privacy screens--later I talked with a friend who said her precinct only had four spaces set up for this. Election chiefs should be encouraged to set up more spaces for paper ballots.
T Ailshire November 11, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Better yet, with people who don't give a rat's patoot about political parties.
T Ailshire November 11, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I lived in TX for almost ten years. Early voting is ubiquitous and seamless. In those 10 years, only once did I vote at a polling place on election day. Every other year, I was somewhere with early voting -- malls, shopping centers, grocery stores, etc. But I guess those who want to vote in more than one place would have to be really motivated here. Maybe it's a voter-fraud mitigation effort.
T Ailshire November 11, 2012 at 04:16 PM
The Post's Local Living section had a full voters' guide with candidates profiles, amendment text, and bond issues. Chairman Bulova sent out a voters' guide. Delegate Surovell sent out information. Patch wrote articles. The State Board of Elections has sample ballots on its web site (without anyone telling you HOW to mark those ballots) for weeks prior to the election. Anyone who gets to the polls without knowing what's on the ballot is simply lazy.
T Ailshire November 11, 2012 at 04:16 PM
In previous years, I had been told no cell phones in the polling place, so I left mine in the car. What was different this year? I could have been more productive (though I did get an hour's worth of reading in).


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