Reston, VA

(Updated 11:10 a.m.) Be careful if you get a mailer from the Center for Voter Information, Fairfax County election officials say.

Fairfax County and City of Fairfax residents have received the mailers from the Center for Voter Information, which have incorrect return addresses.

“This mailing is causing great confusion and concern among voters who have been contacting our office,” said Fairfax County General Registrar Gary Scott. “While the mailing may appear to be from an official government agency, the Fairfax County Office of Elections did not send it.”

The Center for Voter Information, a voter registration group, says its working on returning the incorrect mailers to the right addresses. Roughly half-a-million mailers included incorrect information.

“Mistakes in our programming are very rare, but we take them seriously, and our methods overall are extraordinarily effective,” the center wrote in a statement yesterday.

“We know voters are on high alert as the November election approaches, and we regret adding to any confusion,” the center added.

Jonathan Shapiro, the president of Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Company, apologized in a statement, saying that the printing vendor is responsible for the “major error.”

“This mistake occurred because we incorrectly aligned a spreadsheet that matched the voter with their local election office,” Shapiro said. CVI did not review the spreadsheet and the printing vendor has taken steps to make sure mistakes are caught in the future, Shapiro added.

“This is not the level of work that SED and our partner, Quad Graphics, pride ourselves on. We have printed and mailed over 100 million vote-by-mail applications and voter registration applications without error and we are committed to the highest standards of quality control and excellence,” Shapiro said.  “In this mailing we fell far short of that goal. We apologize to CVI, to the staff at the affected local boards of election, and to the voters.”

County officials are warning voters about the “inaccurate and potentially misleading mailing” that asks people to return them to the City of Fairfax.

More from the county:

This group is mass mailing pre-filled, absentee ballot applications to county voters without their request — and the mailer includes return envelopes to send the application to the City of Fairfax, not Fairfax County.

The mailing is also confusing voters who have previously submitted absentee ballot applications themselves, Scott added. These voters are worried that their applications were not received, leading them to think they need to apply again.

Fairfax County is working with the City of Fairfax to ensure any applications received from the center’s inaccurate mailing will be processed by the county.

“The Virginia Department of Elections has no affiliation with this group nor coordinates with any third-party groups on campaign efforts,” according to the Virginia Department of Elections. The department noted that any applications that get sent to the wrong locality’s office will be sent to the correct office.

This is not the first time that mailers from the Center for Voter Information, which describes itself as a non-partisan organization that helps people vote, have confused Virginians.

The News Leader, a newspaper in Staunton, explained last year how organizations can obtain mailing addresses after the Center for Voter Information confused residents with a mailer about voter registration.

County election officials said that election information from the county will include a county seal on the envelope, along with the “Official Election Mail Authorized by the U. S. Postal Service” logo.

Fairfax County voters who want to return the Center for Voter Information applications should mail it to the Fairfax County Office of Elections (12000 Government Center Parkway Suite 323, Fairfax, VA 22035), Brian Worthy, a county spokesperson, said.

People who want to absentee vote by mail can apply online, which will allow them to track the status of their application, or vote in-person at 15 locations. Registered voters can expect their ballots to arrive after Sept. 18.

Photo by Element5 Digital/Unsplash, photo via mailer via Fairfax County

Catherine Douglas Moran and Fatimah Waseem worked on this story

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Many election officers in the county fall in high-risk categories for COVID-19.

The Fairfax County Office of Election is seeking more election officers this year. To assist voters on Election Day, which is on Nov. 3.

The county is the largest voting jurisdictions in the state, with 243 precincts nationwide. Officers must be registered voters.

Training for new officers will begin online in September. Compensation begins at $175.

The application is available online. The deadline is Oct. 10 and mandatory online training must be completed by Oct. 14.

More information is available on the county’s website.

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Reston Community Center has announced the voting schedule to fill three seats on its Board of Governors.

Voting in the annual preference poll will begin on September 11. RCC is seeking candidates for the seats, which have three-year terms. Residents of Small District 5 who are age 18 or above are eligible to run.

Candidates can submit a candidacy statement between August 1 and August 15 to have their names included on the preference poll ballot. Registration forms will be available at RCC Hunters Woods and RCC Lake Anne, as well as online beginning August 1.

A candidate photo session and orientation is set for August 15. Voting takes place from September 11 through September 27, until October 2 at 5 p.m. The deadline for mailed. Ballots is October 1 until 5 p..m. and October 2 until 5 p.m. for online and walk-in voting.

The Board of Governors is a nine-member body that overseeing policies, programming and finances for RCC.

Logo via Reston Community Center

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Call for Absentee Votes — The county is opening 14 locations for in-person absentee voting starting Oct. 14. Residents can also apply for an absentee ballot via mail. [Fairfax County Government]

Metro to Restore Service in August — “Metro is increasing service for Metrorail starting Aug. 16 and Metrobus starting Aug. 23. It’s part of the transit agency’s plan to ramp up service throughout the coronavirus pandemic and return to full service in spring 2021.” [DCist]

White Fairfax County police officer formally indicted — “Prosecutors have formally indicted a white Fairfax County police officer charged with assault after firing a stun gun at an African American man. The procedural move means Fairfax County prosecutors are dropping three assault charges against officer Tyler Timberlake in General District Court and instead opting for a grand jury indictment that will allow him to be tried by a jury in Circuit Court.” [WJLA]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Yesterday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved creating 14 voter satellite offices.

The voter satellite offices will serve absentee in-person voters.

“The advent of no-excuse absentee voting [in Virginia] for the November 2020 Presidential Election is expected to significantly increase the number of voters choosing to cast absentee ballots in person,” according to county staff.

County staff noted that the expected voter turnout for the upcoming presidential election is why they suggest an increased number of voter satellite offices, adding that the county had nine locations for the 2016 presidential election.

The Reston-area voter satellite offices will include:

  • Great Falls Library (9830 Georgetown Pike)
  • Herndon Fortnightly Library (768 Center Street)
  • North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive)

The voter satellite offices will be ready for the General Election on Nov. 3 and will be open from Oct. 14-31, according to county documents.

The locations would be open from 1-7 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays.

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When 81 Reston Association members cast online ballots for the current board election on the first day of voting on Monday, they voted with incorrect ballots linked to other members.

The technical error prompted Intelliscan, RA’s independent election agent, to toss the ballots out and fix the issue.

“Intelliscan has since corrected the error and come up with a comprehensive plan to address those individuals who voted with an erroneous ballot,” said Mike Leone, RA’s spokesman.

Due to the botched ballots, Intelliscan has created a special log-in to verify the credentials of the 2,500 members who plan to vote online. Members must call Intelliscan to verify their credentials, after which the company will send a new voter link with the correct ballot to cast a vote. The company is also sending paper ballots to all members as a “safeguard.”

Both corrective actions are being administered at no additional cost to RA. The issue only impacted online ballots.

An alert to inform members of the technical error and apologize for the mixup has been sent to affected members. The email includes a link for members to cast their votes online.

“This process will ensure that RA members impacted will not be able to double vote,” Leone wrote.  RA says that the issue was a one-time error that has been resolved and will not impact the remainder of the elections.

Intelliscan said the issue was a technical error, as described by RA below:

Intelliscan received the Member file from RA to send out the pre-election email blast to collect any “bounce backs” from Members that had opted-in.  Voter codes were then populated.  Intelliscan realized after the pre-election email blast had been sent, that the corresponding addresses were incorrect for some Members and requested a corrected file from RA.  Additional Members where added and voters codes were repopulated within the Membership file.  Additionally, Intelliscan kept a separate “notify table” which held the names of Members that were sent the pre-election email blast.  Unfortunately, the codes in the “notify table” were not updated by Intelliscan to the correct voter codes prior to the second “kick-off” email blast.  Once RA realized that the emailed Members’ voter codes were incorrect, the association contacted Intelliscan and the voting website was taken down by Intelliscan. 

This is not the first time RA board elections have had hiccups. Last year, technical issues caused roughly 2,800 paper ballots to be returns as undeliverable. Intelliscan resent the ballots to the correct addresses and moved to extend the voting period.

Anyone with questions about the issue can contact Intelliscan by calling 252-560-8079 or emailing Michelle McRoy at [email protected].

Image via Reston Association

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(Updated 2/28/2020) Students at Fairfax County’s public schools will get to stay home on March 3 for Super Tuesday.

Large crowds are expected to turn out for the primary election in Virginia. Brian Worthy, a spokesperson for the county, said that 167 polling places will be in the schools for voters casting their ballots for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The county’s school board voted last spring to make Super Tuesday a student holiday for the 2019-2020 school year.

While students will have the day off, staff will still need to report to the schools, Lucy Caldwell, an FCPS spokesperson, said.

Eligible voters can find their polling location on the Virginia Department of Elections website or the My Neighborhood App.

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Monday Morning Notes

In-person Absentee Voting Underway — This past weekend, in-person absentee voting opened at 13 locations in the county. Locally, the Herndon Fortnightly Library will be open Mondays through Fridays from 3-7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

Library Coalition Proposes County Plan — “The Coalition to Expand Library Access formally launched its “It’s About Time” campaign with an information meeting for community groups on Feb. 6 at the George Mason Regional Library in Annandale.” [Fairfax County Times]

County Police Mourns Passing of K9 — The Fairfax County Police Department is remembering K9 Doby, the department’s “four-legged brother” who died unexpectedly while responding to an armed robbery. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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A bill that no longer requires voters to provide an excuse to cast an absentee ballot cleared the Senate this week.

The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) allows registered voters to cast an absentee ballot in any election where the voter is qualified to cast a ballot.

Howell’s bill was part of a package of bills that tweak the voting process in Virginia.

Other proposals, which got a green light from the Senate earlier this week, include designating Election Day as a state holiday and extending the deadline for the receipt of military and overseas absentee ballots.

Proposals in the House and Senate to remove photo ID requirements were killed in committee.

The proposals would have allowed voters to show registration statements, bank documents or other government-issued paperwork with the name and address of the voter.

Howell’s bill passed in the Senate by a 31-9 vote.

Photo by Catherine Moran

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Super Tuesday” is in March — but Fairfax County is reminding voters about absentee voting and seeking election officers now.

Absentee voting for the 2020 presidential primary starts later this week on Friday, Jan. 17.

The deadline to register to vote in the March 3 primary is Feb. 10. People can check their voter eligibility on the Virginia State Board of Elections website.

Last week, the county announced that it needs 2,100 election officers for the primary.

The Office of Elections especially is looking for bilingual officers who speak Korean or Vietnamese for the Falls Church area, along with Annadel and Centreville, according to the county.

Election officers help set up voting equipment, check photo IDs and tabulate poll results. Compensation starts at $175 or people can choose to volunteer their time.

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Fairfax County voters are headed to the polls today.

In the Hunter Mill and Drainsville districts, there are several seats up for election including the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Fairfax County School Board positions and Board of Supervisors seats.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and voters can swing by anytime throughout the day.

There are several options for anyone wishing to monitor turnout and results. Fairfax County’s Twitter account will be posting updates at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.

There are around 20 various polling locations, which will be open throughout the area. Voters can find their designated polling location using the My Neighborhood Map or through the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Below is a map of all the voting locations throughout Reston and Herndon.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Proposed Changes to Land Use Regulations Unveiled Today — Fairfa County officials will showcase proposed revisions to zoning land use regulations as part os its zoning modernization project — zMOD — today (Tuesday) at the Fairfax County Government Center at 7 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

INOVA Blood Drive is Today — The bloodmobile will be stationed next to the pavilion from 1-6 p.m. today. Appointments to donate blood can be scheduled online or by calling 1-866-256-6372. [Reston Town Center]

Absentee Voting in Full Swing — Absentee voting, which kickstarted last Thursday, across 10 locations in Fairfax County is underway. Locations will be open Mondays through Saturdays until Saturday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

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(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) Voting is in full swing for the Democratic primary as five candidates vie for Hunter Mill District Supervisor — a seat vacated by local veteran legislator Cathy Hudgins.

As of 1 p.m., turnout in the Hunter Mill District was around 4.7 percent — the highest of all other districts in the county. Overall, turnout in the county is 3.4 percent.

The morning got off to a slow start. Campaign volunteers at Reston Community Centers said they only saw a handful of candidates between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. today (Tuesday). Campaign signs flapped quietly in the wind as the casual voter strolled in.

In previous years, voter turnout for local primaries has been under 10 percent. For example, in the 2010 Republican primary, turnout was just under 5 percent in the Hunter Mill District.

So far, Comstock spokeswoman Maggie Parker leads total fundraising with $258,225 raised, despite a late start to her campaign. Former Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn — who has also picked up a number of local and county endorsements — raised $102,749.

U.S. Air Force Veteran and community advocate Shyamali Hauth raised $28,738 — a little more than lawyer Laurie Dodd, who raised $24,919. Recent Roanoke College graduate Parker Messick raised a little over $7,000.

Candidate profiles published on Reston Now are linked below:

Voters will also select a new chair for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors:

Information about the complete ballot is available online.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. Acceptable forms of identification include a Virginia driver’s license, a U.S. passport, employer-issued photo ID, and student photo ID. Only one form of ID is required.

County officials will post updates on Twitter about voter turnout totals throughout the day. Unofficial election returns are expected to come in starting around 7 p.m. today.

As a reminder, registered voters of any party can participate in the Democratic primary.

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This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

If a sign of a healthy democracy is a lot of people running for elective office, we have become a true democracy in Virginia. This year is a busy year for elections because a lot of terms for elective offices are up this year. In Fairfax County, for example, all the seats on the County Board of Supervisors are up for election as is the chairman of the Board who is elected county-wide. The June 11 Democratic Party primary election has four contenders vying for the supervisor’s seat that is being vacated with the retirement of Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. I am not sure whether the Republicans intend to nominate a candidate to make for a race on November 5. For chairman of the Board there is a Democratic primary to pick the nominee who the Republicans will presumably challenge in the November election.

School Board members for Fairfax County also are up for election. A member is chosen for each magisterial district plus three at-large members. School board elections are non-partisan, but candidates seek endorsement of one of the major parties. Currently there is a scramble in Hunter Mill district to replace retiring member Pat Hynes. A broad and diverse field of candidates is seeking party endorsements.

Constitutional offices which in Fairfax County are the Commonwealth Attorney and the sheriff are also on the ballot this November. The incumbent Commonwealth Attorney must withstand a primary challenge in the Democratic Party before getting to the fall election. The sheriff is likely to move smoothly through the November election.

Adding to the number of candidates for whom you are likely to see ads, receive brochures or answer those pesky robo-calls are the candidates for the House of Delegates and the Senate, all of whom are up for election this year. While it is too early to know for sure who all the challengers will be as it is possible for political parties to name candidates up until early June, we already know the field is crowded. There is an unprecedented number of challenges in primaries and a larger than usual number of retirements of incumbents. On the State Senate side there are eleven Democratic and five Republican primaries that include challenges to four incumbent Democrats and three Republican incumbents.

On the House of Delegates side of the General Assembly there are 13 Democratic primaries involving five incumbents and seven Republican primaries with two incumbents being challenged. These numbers do not include districts in which conventions may be held to select candidates.

All this activity is good news for democracy but might seem overwhelming to voters. At this point in time races are not all set with candidates. After the June 11 primaries, the line-ups will be clearer. Party activists will be busy informing voters who their candidates are. In the meantime, please forgive me if any of my numbers are off as this story continues to emerge. The good news is there will be many choices that have the potential to lead to better government. Don’t be alarmed by this crowded field!

File photo

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With the Reston Association’s voting deadline less than one week away, Reston Now has the latest update on the Board of Directors’ election.

The five uncontested seats each need to reach a quorum of 10 percent of eligible voters to make the election results official.

Here are the percentages of the returned votes for the third week of voting:

  • At Large: 9.80 percent
  • Hunters Woods/Dogwood: 8.23 percent
  • Lake Anne/Tall Oaks: 8.47 percent
  • North Point: 11.68 percent

The received ballots include 1,282 ones submitted electronically and 888 paper ones.

The deadline was extended from April 1 to April 3 after the association found out that a technical issue caused approximately 2,800 paper ballots to be returned as undeliverable.

Results of the election will be announced at the Annual Members’ Meeting on April 9.

Photos courtesy Reston Association

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