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An Evening at the Fairfax County Office of Elections

Patch spent Election Night at ground zero for election results.

At around 7:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, results of Virginia’s 2011 elections began rolling into the Fairfax County Office of Elections. County employees, candidates and media were all already bustling around the room awaiting the numbers.

The Office of Elections affords its election night visitors an interesting luxury—they get to see the results of local elections before they are posted on the Virginia State Board of Elections website or made available to the general public.

Merni Fitzgerald, Fairfax County's director of public affairs, oversaw the operations as polling officials called in their precincts' final numbers. Fitzgerald warned visitors that results would likely be slower this year. "There are 76 different ballot types, 99 candidates and a school bond question," she said. "So it might take a while."

It took about 45 minutes. Results trickled slowly at first, but that trickle quickly became a deluge of numbers.

For instance, while the SBE site was showing the results from eight precincts for the tight race for Braddock District Supervisor between incumbent John Cook and challenger Janet Oleszek, results from 18 of the 27 Braddock District precincts were available at .

Throughout the evening, representatives for various candidates frantically tallied votes and rapidly relayed them to their camps. "You have to tell me which precinct you want," one representative said into her phone. "There are too many. I don't know which one you want."

, who was running against Sharon Bulova for the Board of Supervisors chairman position, spent part of his evening at the office to tally votes with his children. According to the Board of Elections site, DeCarlo garnered 3.4 percent of the chairman vote, with 6,520 votes across the county's 240 precincts.

By 10 p.m., many of the precincts had submitted their results. By about 10:45 p.m., the office was empty save for a few people.

One representative did some addition and let out a chuckle.

"I think we won," she said to her colleague. An official announcement hadn't been made, but she picked up her cell phone to deliver the good news and call it a night. 

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