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Fairfax Gears Up for Election Day

The county has acquired 187 new electronic polling machines since 2008.

As the Republican National Convention wraps up in Tampa and the Democrats converge on Charlotte, the Fairfax County Office of Elections is preparing for Election Day.

Gary Scott, the county’s deputy registrar, said he and his office are ready for a busy day and long night when Nov. 6 gets here. Election office employees will be handling results from the county’s 237 polling places, 187 of which will be equipped with electronic polling machines this year, Scott said.

“The biggest improvement we’ve made is the use of electronic polling equipment,” he said. The county didn’t have the machines at its disposal in 2008 – the Commonwealth of Virginia made them available in 2009 – so Scott anticipates results will be easier to count.

But while the electronic machines will alleviate much of the burden, there will still be paper ballots to count – thousands of them, in fact.

“We’re going to have several thousand paper ballots that are going to have to be hand-counted,” he said.

The office of elections will have anywhere from 60 to 70 employees working on site throughout the evening. About 40 people will be working the phones at Fairfax County Government Center, taking calls from media, candidate parties and more.

And the county’s polling places will be overseen by more than 3,000 election officers, many of whom are still being recruited, Scott said.

According to a release on the county’s web site, the office has five employees under the age of 30, who will be working alongside many veteran employees who have been with the office for more than 10 years.

Scott said there was no way to anticipate voter turnout during elections, but that Fairfax County has been fairly consistent in the past.

“Typically, Fairfax County will have a 75 percent turnout for presidential elections,” said. About 78 percent of registered voters in the county came out to the polls in 2008.

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