Fairfax County Election Commission to Start Work in 2013

Group will focus on reducing wait times at county polls.

A newly appointed election commission will examine efficiency at the polls in Fairfax County in an effort to prevent the long waits some residents dealt with Nov. 6. from happening again.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed members to the commission Dec. 4 and charged them with reviewing the county’s election system and developing recommendations for improvement.

Board Chairman Sharon Bulova proposed the bipartisan commission, a motion that passed unanimously despite some supervisors worrying about the cost and legal ramifications.

The commission will focus primarily on ways to cut down severe wait times reported by residents in various districts. Some voters reported manageable wait times of no more than 30 minutes, but the last polls in the county closed at 10:30 p.m. – a wait of more than 3 hours for residents who got in line for the 7 p.m. poll cutoff.

“I am pleased to see that the commission is moving forward,” Bulova said in a statement. “It is important that the county identify ways to reduce lines, decrease wait times and streamline our election process.”

Republican Stuart Mendelsohn, a former Dranesville District Supervisor, and Democrat Katherine Hanley, a former board chairman and secretary of the commonwealth, will share duties leading the commission.

The rest of the commission will be made up of one appointee from each supervisor, two appointees from Chairman Bulova, the chairs of the Republican and Democratic parties of Fairfax County, and representatives from other county organizations.

They are expected to start work in January 2013 and make their recommendations to the Board in May 2013.

Sandra December 14, 2012 at 05:29 AM
How about adding in more electronic voting machines? We only had 2 for our entire precinct, and that's what took forever. Or else allow early voting without requiring voters to provide a reason (or else let that reason be "to avoid long lines on election day"!
Jean Lentz December 18, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Voters need to be educated about the paper ballot option. These ballots are scanned immediately, and the data tabulated. At the end of the day these votes are counted just like the touch screen machine results - but - with the paper ballot there is a paper trail, in case of a recount. Paper ballots are the way to go! My polling place had two touch screens and six "booths" for completing paper ballots. The other issue that slowed things down is that the ballot had too many items, and some of the items were lengthly and unfamiliar so required a long time to read and deliberate which way to vote. Another area for more and better voter education.


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