October 7, 2020
To the Fairfax County Community,

I have some good news to report from the Office of Elections. In-person early voting at the Fairfax County Government Center will be available this Saturday, October 10, from 9am-5pm. This is in addition to normal voting hours at this location found here. And don't forget that our 14 additional early voting satellite locations open on October 14. This is almost double the locations we normally have. Locations and times for all early voting satellite locations can be found here.

The Office of Elections has also revamped curbside voting at the Government Center. There is now a tent outside ready to attend to voters as they drive up and more dedicated parking spaces. You can see a photo below. Also in this newsletter, you will find this information and other questions that are frequently asked to our office.

I also wanted to take a moment to share two opportunities in the community where you can help as we continue to navigate COVID-19. The Shepherd Center needs volunteer drivers to provide transportation for older adults and to deliver food. If you are interested, email office@scov.org or call Erin O'Reilly, Volunteer Manager at 703-281-0538. In addition, INOVA needs blood donations and will test successful blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies. Learn more here.

See below for the full October 7 edition of my newsletter. For COVID-19 resources mentioned in past newsletters, visit my website. If you have a friend who would like to sign up for this newsletter, they can do so here.
Board Meeting
Below is a brief update from yesterday's Board meeting. You can see the full package here.

It was a fairly short meeting in which most of the agenda focused on land use and allowing additional administrative time to complete permitting.

Hypothermia Shelters

  • The Board approved an emergency ordinance authorizing the establishment of several county-operated temporary hypothermia prevention shelters to serve individuals experiencing homelessness during the winter months.
  • The shelters will be available between December 2020 and March 2021.
  • In the past, the County worked with nonprofits and places of worship to accommodate this need. However due to closures and social distancing requirements resulting from COVID-19, many are no longer able to accommodate this need. This ordinance change allows the County to shift the normal functions of those County-owned spaces to a shelter use.
  • Learn more here.

Comments on WMATA's FY2021 Budget and Service Reductions

  • The WMATA budget outlook for the remainder of FY 2021 is worse than anticipated when the budget was revised in May 2020. This is primarily because of the impacts on ridership due to COVID-19. They have proposed service and budget changes that you can see in detail here.
  • In response to the changes, our Board approved a letter that outlines the County's position on the proposal. Some highlights are:
  • Silver Line Phase 2 Opening – The construction of the project should proceed as scheduled toward substantial completion at the end of 2020, so no additional delays in the revenue service date occur.
  • Metrorail Service Changes – The distribution of reduced service is equal across the region and the level of service seems appropriate and reasonable given current demand.
  • Metrobus Service Changes – The proposed Metrobus service cuts maintain the current levels of service being provided by WMATA. These cuts are understandable, as long as they are only temporary. Our Board expects all Metrobus services to resume at the pre-March 2020 levels once the threat of COVID-19 abates.
  • Fare Collection Changes – The Board supports the decision to reimplement front door boarding and the collection of fares on Metrobus routes beginning January 1, 2021, assuming drivers’ shields have been installed.
  • Marketing WMATA’s Covid-19 Response – The Board encourages the WMATA management team to make a concerted effort to market more widely the safety and cleaning protocols that have been put in place.
  • You can read the full letter on page 83 of the Board package.
  • You can also provide comment to WMATA here.
Voting FAQs
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, 8am-4:30pm and Saturdays from 9am-5pm. Because of the limited locations, the voting line has been long. Please note these hours will change starting October 14.

Also, on October 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 October 31.
 
Why aren’t there more early voting locations open now?
 
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 9 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 1 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 6am-7pm. 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?

  1. 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 12 noon on the Friday immediately following the election.
  2. Ballots can be returned by mail or at a ballot drop-box.
  3. 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.
  4. You DO NOT need a witness signature on your ballot, despite what the instructions say.
  5. Fill out your ballot in either blue or black pen ink.
  6. 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).
  7. 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 6am-7pm. 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 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 than has until noon Friday, three days after Election Day, to submit a corrected ballot which will then be reported as part of the official count.
Health
Common Health Questions:

  • People with COVID-19 have a wide range of symptoms reported - ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. You might experience:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Continue to follow the health guidelines:
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if that isn't an option (especially when in public places)
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve
  • Don't touch your face
  • Social distance
  • What it means to social distance, self-isolate, and quarantine.
  • The CDC recommends wearing non-medical masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is now required in Virginia.
  • The New York Times (access to COVID-19 content is free) spoke with infectious disease experts, aerosol scientists, and microbiologists to find out if COVID-19 can land on your clothing, hair, shoes, and mail.

Resources:

  • Fairfax County Health Department
  • To view the number of cases in Fairfax County this page is updated at noon daily.
  • Visit the County site on COVID-19, Health Department Website, and see their FAQs.
  • To view multilingual health materials visit the County's Language Portal.
  • Sign up for text message alerts: text FFXCOVID to 888777. Para inscribirse, textear FFXCOVIDESP a 888777.
  • Call the Health Department from 9am-7pm weekdays and 9:30am-5pm on weekends: 703-267-3511
  • Email: ffxcovid@fairfaxcounty.gov. This account will be staffed Monday through Friday, 8am-8pm.
  • Inova has a helpful FAQ.
We recognize that we are in very trying times, but I hope you see in these newsletters that positive change has occurred over the last several months.

As I often say, we are truly lucky to live in Fairfax County where we have the resources to overcome challenges and a community who rises to the occasion.

Jeffrey C. McKay
Contact the Office

chairman@fairfaxcounty.gov | 703.324.2321 |