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Sharon Bulova Wants Review of Voting Efficiency

Supervisors chairman says group should look at long waiting times at polling spots, 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.

Dave Webster November 10, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Isn't Fairfax County Democratic Party General Counsel John Farrell making contradictory statements here? First he says that he is opposed to a bipartisan commission being formed in Fairfax County to study ways to alleviate long voter lines because the Board of Supervisors has little influence over the Virginia Board of Elections. He then proceeds to list a series of actions that Fairfax County can take to alleviate long voter lines 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. According to Mr. Farrell, these things must be done immediately and not after being studied by a commission because commissions are "a way to get nothing done for an extended period of time," What does Mr. Farrell suggest? That Supervisor Foust redraw precinct maps with a laser pointer during a public hearing? I look forward to Mr. Farrell opposing the use of all commissions of any nature whatsoever on the theory that "they get nothing done for an extended period of time." Lastly, does he seriously believe that increasing election officers' pay from $100 to $125 a day will make any difference?
Carol Lewis November 17, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I don't know if Ms Bulova will read this article, but I hope she includes changes in voting for disabled persons. I handed out pamphlets at the Vienna Community Center. The sign with the phone number for curbside voting was posted on the front door, which is recessed, barely visible from the curb and blocked by the line of voters. Several people told me that they could walk but couldn't stand in line and asked why there couldn't be a line specifically for people like that, with chairs along the way, so they wouldn't have to vote curbside. The wait for curbside assistance was often as long as waiting in line (one car ran out of gas waiting). Really, we can do better than this. We can make it easier for everyone to vote.


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