Bulova Wants Review of Voting Efficiency

Fairfax County Supervisor says group should look at long waiting times at some polling spots and 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. In Herndon, reported waits varied from having no wait to about about an hour wait at peak time in the morning.

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 01:09 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?
Mary Lambert November 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Will Ms. Boliva also study the voting irregularities in Herndon? When a precinct has a better than 100% turnout, I see that as a problem and the Board of Elections has no business certifying results. I also have absolutely no doubt that Herndon is not the only place this has happened.
Bob Bruhns November 11, 2012 at 06:42 PM
You say one Herndon precinct had more than 100% turnout? Which one, and where can this be verified?
Dave Webster November 11, 2012 at 07:11 PM
None of the Herndon Precincts had a 100% turnout. Here are the results. Herndon 1 - Total Voters: 3,783 Romney: 968 Obama: 1,512 Herndon 2 - Total Voters: 4,031 Romney: 818 Obama: 1,784 Herndon 3 - Total Voters: 3,620 Romney: 750 Obama: 1,583 I was there when the votes for Herndon Precinct #2 were counted. I would have said something if we had more than a 100% turnout.
Dave Webster November 11, 2012 at 07:15 PM
By the way, John Farrell responded to my comments on the Reston Patch version of this article. Essentially, he said that he made recommendations to the Board of Supervisors before the election that were ignored by a number of Supervisors and there is no need for a committee because all they need to do is to immediately implement Mr. Farrell's ideas to shorten voter lines.
Bob Bruhns November 12, 2012 at 09:58 AM
I didn't know the number of registered voters in each of Herndon's three precincts, but adding the precinct turnouts together, I could see that they did not add up to the - what - 11,000 Herndon voters that I have heard about in the past, so it didn't ring true. I don't know who started the rumor about more than 100% of one Herndon precinct turning out - maybe it was deliberate misinformation, maybe it was a mistake. But people should keep in mind that it simply isn't true.
Bob Bruhns November 12, 2012 at 04:48 PM
As an aside, I think that if an article is of interest, then the comments about that article are of interest as well. So all comments on any particular article that is of interest and appears in multiple Patches, should appear in the comments section of the article in every Patch where the article appears. I suspect that it takes time-consuming manual article configuration editing in each Patch to allow that to happen, so it doesn't always get set that way. It should be the software default, but apparently it is not.
Dave Webster November 12, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Bob, I was told by Karen Goff that when an article is "cloned" rather than copied the comments from the original article aren't picked up. Cloning occurs when the editor of a neighboring Patch wants to put their own spin on an article or publish it at a later date for some reason or another.
Bob Bruhns November 12, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Interesting. Thanks for that information, Dave.


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