Reston, VA

When early voting began at the North County Government Center in Reston on Saturday (April 24), the crowd of electioneers assembled outside the building dwarfed the number of people casting their ballots inside the building.

The absence of lines contrasted sharply with the 2020 general election, when Fairfax County sometimes saw hour-long waits at early voting sites. This time, the biggest hold-up was the few extra seconds election volunteers needed to sort through 16 different ballots and match them with the right voters.

While not surprised by the relatively muted turnout for the first days of early voting for the June 8 Democratic primary, which started on April 23 at the Fairfax County Government Center before expanding to two satellite locations a day later, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn says it’s too soon to make any confident projections about what early voting will look like in the future.

“Going through a couple of election cycles, I think we need to do that before we can come to any long-term conclusions about how early voting is best done, how to staff it, what resources are necessary,” he said.

Even with a crowded gubernatorial contest on the ballot, the 2021 election cycle likely won’t match the high turnout for last year’s general election, which was buoyed by an especially heated presidential race, but there is already evidence that the Virginia’s new laws permanently expanding the accessibility of absentee voting are paying off.

According to the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project, 63,508 voters have requested mail ballots, and 709 people have voted in person, as of April 24. In comparison, there were just 35,390 early voters in the 2017 primaries, the last time that Virginia had a governor’s race, and that includes 8,815 people who requested mail ballots but never returned them.

Fairfax County has gotten 11,222 mail ballot requests and 68 in-person voters. In 2017, 3,109 people voted early in person, and 1,919 people voted by mail.

Fairfax County Office of Elections spokesperson Brian Worthy attributes this uptick to recent legislative changes made by the Virginia General Assembly, particularly the introduction of no-excuse absentee voting that took effect last year.

“Since the last gubernatorial election, voting by mail has become easier in Virginia,” Worthy said. “Not only can any registered voter do so without needing a reason as was required in the past, but also the law now makes it easy to vote by mail permanently. As a result, the Office of Elections expects to see an increase in voting by mail over time as has happened in other states that have implemented similar laws.”

Legislators took further action to make early voting more accessible during a special session in March, including requiring localities to offer ballot drop-off boxes, permitting absentee voting on Sundays, and suspending witness signature requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, though those laws don’t take effect until July 1.

Early voting is also “way up” in Falls Church City compared to the last gubernatorial primary, according to Director of Elections and General Registrar David Bjerke.

Bjerke told Reston Now on Friday (April 23) that the city had sent out 315 ballots so far, including 176 mail ballots and 139 email ballots to overseas voters, and three people showed up to vote in person that day. The 2017 primary saw just 240 early voters total, even though the Democratic and Republican parties both held elections that summer.

“It’s a huge increase,” Bjerke said. Read More

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Morning Notes

Early Voting Begins Today — At 9 a.m., Fairfax County voters can start casting their ballots for the June 8 Democratic primary. Early voting has expanded from previous years, with all registered voters now allowed to participate and the county immediately offering three locations with Saturday hours. [Fairfax County Government]

Massage Therapist Arrested for Sexual Battery in Herndon — “Herndon Police arrested a massage therapist Wednesday in connection with a sexual battery incident that occurred at a business in the 400 block of Carlisle Drive, according to a post on the department’s official Facebook page. Police charged Zachary Nelson Guzman-Orellana, 39, of Leesburg, with aggravated sexual battery by a therapist.” [Patch]

Herndon Farmers Market Opens Amid Blustery Weather — “A handful of vendors bundled up early Thursday morning and set up their tables, signaling the return of the Herndon Farmers Market to Lynn Street in old town for the 2021 season. It was cold and windy, but everyone seemed happy to be back.” [Patch]

Reston Association Job Fair Coming Tomorrow — “Join us this Saturday at the Reston Aquatics Job Fair! From 11 AM-2 PM, come to Ridge Heights Pool and chat with current staff, play games, and win prizes. Bring your friends and spread the word! Social distancing and masks will be required.” [RA/Twitter]

Reston CEO to Host Entrepreneurship Workshop — Reston Limousine Service President and CEO Kristina Bouweiri will lead the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority’s next “Entrepreneurship 101: Starting a Business in Fairfax County” webinar on May 4. Held every other month, the virtual workshops feature panels of small business experts on how to start a business. [FCEDA]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Later this week, Fairfax County will kick off voting for its second pandemic primary, and the county officials running the election are applying a few lessons from the last year of early and mail-in voting.

Early voting for the Democratic primary is scheduled to start this Friday (April 23) and will be open to all voters registered in the county.

Voters in last year’s election faced long lines as they waited to turn in their ballots early, but Fairfax County General Registrar and Director of Elections Gary Scott, who is retiring from the position this year, said that scenario is unlikely in this year’s elections.

“What we’re doing is trying to incorporate some of the things we did observe,” Scott said. “There are lessons learned from the general election that don’t necessarily translate well to a primary election. We’re looking at a different electorate and a different level of turnout. But we’re opening more than one location early.”

Scott says that, in addition to the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway), the county will open the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) and the Mount Vernon Government Center (2511 Parkers Lane) for early voting on Saturday, April 24.

For the last week of the primary, the county will open an additional 13 early voting sites starting on May 29. Sites in the Reston/Herndon area include the Great Falls and Herndon Fortnightly libraries.

“For the last week, we will have a total of 16 locations where people will vote,” Scott said. “And we’ve extended hours from 4:30 p.m. to, now, 7 p.m. We wanted to extend further after working hours.”

Scott says it can be difficult to estimate how many voters there will be.

The last gubernatorial primary in 2017 had a 13% turnout, but that year had both a Republican and Democrat primary. This year, it’s Democrat-only, but Scott says his office is still preparing for a 40% turnout, even if that is viewed as extremely unlikely.

“Ordering paper ballots is relatively cheap after a certain point, and I’d rather have 10,000 ballots too many than 10,000 ballots too few,” he said.

Those voting in person should not submit an application to receive a ballot by mail, though anyone who requests a mail ballot can still surrender it when they check in if they decide to vote in-person instead.

“If you submit an application, you’re going to be sent a ballot by mail, and you’d have to return that ballot to back it out in order to vote in person,” Scott explained.

There will be drop boxes around the county after Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill into law on March 31 making permanent a measure that was adopted temporarily last year. Drop boxes will be available at all early voting sites and polling places for those who want to drop off their ballot, according to Scott.

The deadline to register to vote in Fairfax County is May 19 — 22 days prior to the election. The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 8. Virginia is an open-primary state, so the primary is open to all voters.

“There are no Republican races in Fairfax County, so if you’re showing up to vote for republican candidates…there aren’t any,” Scott said. “For top of ticket, they chose convention, and some House of Delegates races had only one qualified candidate for primary.”

In addition to the statewide governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general races, voters in six districts have House of Delegates races on the primary ballot:

“We would encourage people, before they go out to vote, to review sample ballots we will have posted on our website,” Scott said. “So, if they go to vote, they’re prepared, because not everyone in the county is going to see the same ballot.”

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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.

As we probably learned and as we teach our children, voting is the most important of civic duties. By choosing our leaders at election time and by deciding questions on referenda, we set the direction for our communities, states, and nation. Voting is a way to express our values and beliefs.

In one of the contradictions that strain the legitimacy of what we teach vs. what we do is to teach our children, proclaim in civic pronouncements and require for Scouting citizenship merit badges an acknowledgement of the importance of voting while at the same time making it difficult and sometimes impossible for some people to vote.

During the colonial period and early years of the state of Virginia, only white land-owners could vote. The Reconstruction era after the Civil War brought Black men into the electorate, but in a matter of decades that free access to voting was cut off by white supremacists who reasserted their power. An avowed purpose of writing a new constitution in 1902 was to disenfranchise Black men. It was successful in that the voting rolls were cut in half as most Blacks and poor whites were not able to make their way through the maze of requirements that one had to meet in order to vote. A blank sheet registration system and a $1.50 poll tax to be paid three years in a row at least six months before an election kept many from voting. White people in the upper crust of local society made it through these hurdles as the voting registrar who was part of the governing machine would provide them assistance while everyone else floundered at trying to get through the process.

Regardless of their race, women in this country have been able to vote for just over a hundred years, and that right came after incredible struggle. The Civil Rights era and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 opened up the electoral process for many Black people. Even now there are debates in the states about ways that access to the polls can be limited.

The Virginia General Assembly has put the Commonwealth on the path to supporting citizens carrying out their civic duty with several of the most progressive voting laws in the country. A headline in the New York Times last week proclaimed that “Virginia, the Old Confederacy’s Heart, Becomes a Voting Rights Bastion.” Over a fourteen-month period and two legislative sessions the General Assembly has passed and the Governor has signed bills to repeal a voter ID law, enact a 45-day no-excuse absentee voting period that permits early voting, made Election Day a holiday, and established a system for automatic voter registration for anyone who receives a Virginia driver’s license. The Virginia Voting Rights Act follows some of the provisions of the earlier federal law but applies to localities in the state to ensure that voting remains accessible.

In Virginia we will continue to say that voting is one of the most important of our civic duties, and now we will have a legal structure that demonstrates we believe it!

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Morning Notes

Reston Association Board Election Ends Tomorrow — Voting in Reston Association’s Board of Directors election will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 2. There are four candidates seeking two at-large seats, along with one person running for the South Lakes District seat. Reston Now ran profiles of the at-large candidates earlier this year. [RA]

Major Development Coming to Innovation Center Station — Developers are planning to bring 4 million square feet of development to the Innovation Center Metro station. The latest proposal focuses on Loudoun County but was made possible by the sale of the Center for Innovative Technology campus in Herndon [Washington Business Journal]

Virginia Adopts First State Voting Rights Act in U.S. — “Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday approved the Voting Rights Act of Virginia, which aims to eliminate voter suppression and intimidation in the state.” [CNN/WTOP]

South Lakes Students Install Public Art at Lake Thoreau — Students on the South Lakes High School STEAM Team finished installing their Part and Parcel art exhibit at Lake Thoreau earlier this week. The work took nearly 17 months to put together and was developed through a partnership between Reston Association and Public Art Reston. [@SeahawkBoosters/Twitter]

FEMA to Help with COVID-19-related Funeral Costs — “Beginning in early April, residents may apply to FEMA for financial assistance to help cover funeral costs incurred by COVID-19-related deaths. This assistance will be available to all residents…who incurred expenses after Jan. 20, 2020, for a death attributed to the virus.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Leidos Wins Multimillion-Dollar Navy Contract — The Reston-based contractor Leidos has been awarded a contract with an estimated value of $149.2 million to provide engineering, technical, and management services for the U.S. Navy’s Naval Array Technical Support Center. [PR Newswire]

Photo by Ray Copson

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Morning Notes

County Issues Statement on Georgia Shootings — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says his thoughts are with the families and friends who lost loved ones in Tuesday’s shootings in George. He called the attack and the rise in violence against Asian Americans “horrifying, deeply disturbing, and unacceptable.” [FCPD]

Steward of Reston-based Engineering Firm Dies — “Stephen D. Bechtel Jr., who led his family’s engineering and construction firm for three decades, expanding an already sprawling operation into an international behemoth with projects including the Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France and Jubail Industrial City in Saudi Arabia, died March 15 at his home in San Francisco. He was 95. Bechtel announced his death but did not cite a cause.” [The Washington Post]

Northam Restores Voting Rights for Ex-Convicts — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has cleared the path to the ballot for tens of thousands of ex-felons by officially reinstating their civil rights.” [WTOP]

Registration for Reston Association Tennis Resumes — RA has officially opened up registration for tennis lessons for kids, teens and adults. New sessions will start soon. [RA]

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors praised election workers and volunteers yesterday (Tuesday) for their work on the 2020 general election, which presented local voters with new opportunities and unprecedented obstacles.

With voters turning out in record numbers, Fairfax County’s election staff had to adapt to the logistical challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic on top of implementing a slew of new state laws to improve voting accessibility, including the introduction of no-excuse absentee voting and the elimination of photo identification requirements.

“There’s no doubt we had an amazing year,” Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said. “[The election staff] came through with flying colors, and we definitely have to recognize that and appreciate that.”

While this year’s 79.4% turnout rate fell short of the 82.5% high mark set in 2016, the 605,023 ballots cast for the Nov. 3 general election were the most in Fairfax County history. There were also about 80,000 more active registered voters than in 2016 and only 25,667 inactive voters, compared to 64,041 in 2016.

Fairfax County Electoral Board Secretary Katherine Hanley confirmed again in a presentation to the Board of Supervisors that absentee voting drove turnout this year, with only 186,253 people voting in person on Election Day, an even lower number than election officials predicted.

By contrast, there were 414,381 absentee votes. The county received 222,003 by-mail absentee ballots, including approximately 85,000 that were returned through a drop box, and 192,398 people voted in person before Election Day at one of 15 early voting locations.

Fairfax County also had 4,389 provisional ballots.

According to Hanley, the Fairfax County Office of Elections contacted 2,113 voters about small issues with their mail ballots. 1,315 of those voters fixed their ballots, a 63% cure rate.

One thing that surprised election officials was the 17,633 ballots that were either surrendered or goldenrod, meaning that it was never received, lost, or left at home by the voter.

“That’s a much bigger number than we thought there would be,” Hanley said.

Because COVID-19 both triggered and coincided with so many changes in Virginia’s election policies, it is difficult to tell whether 2020 was an anomaly or a harbinger of long-lasting shifts in voter behavior, Hanley says.

Voters throughout the county consistently reported long lines and wait times once early voting commenced at the Fairfax County Government Center on Sept. 18, even after 14 satellite locations opened on Oct. 14.

While election officials tried to accommodate the crowds by extending voting times, they could not add more satellite locations, because Virginia law now requires localities to establish satellite voting locations by ordinance. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance establishing its locations for the Nov. 3 election on July 14.

Though the social distancing protocols necessitated by the pandemic will presumably not be a factor in future elections, Hanley says Fairfax County needs to expand early voting opportunities by adding more satellite locations and offering longer hours or more days for people to vote.

Hanley also recommended that the county review its curbside voting procedures, which caused some confusion this year, and its process for reporting preliminary election results, which took longer than usual because 6,100 ballots returned in drop boxes on Election Day had to be counted by hand after the polls closed.

“None of this will matter if the computer systems are not improved,” Hanley said, adding that the Virginia Department of Elections is in the process of upgrading or replacing the VERIS system it uses to manage voter registration and track ballots.

It will also be up to the state to make changes like the ballot drop boxes, voter notification process for curing errors, and prepaid postage for mail absentee ballots permanent. Those were temporary measures enacted by the Virginia General Assembly in response to COVID-19.

“I think ballot drop boxes are something we need to encourage the General Assembly to extend into the future, because they really did have the effect we wanted them to have,” Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said.

In order to support many of these proposals long-term, Fairfax County will need to devote more money and staff to its election operations, Hanley cautioned.

She says she was “pleasantly surprised” by how many people stepped up to assist with this year’s general election, but it was more challenging to recruit workers for the satellite locations than for Election Day.

The county office of elections ultimately had 3,827 Election Day officers with 140 people in reserve for possible late cancellations, 260 election pages from 30 different schools, 265 early voting officers, 160 officers and three staff members to manage the central absentee precinct, and more than 300 people to handle by-mail absentee ballots.

“We were given a pretty much unlimited budget, and we exceeded it, because we did have other funds coming in,” Hanley said. “We’re going to have to make some judgments with you all about the most efficient way to serve this need and also be responsive to the taxpayers as well.”

Photo via Fairfax County government

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In the 2020 presidential election, Fairfax County voters cast a record number of votes — 600,238 — but the overall turnout was not record-breaking.

This year, 78.8 percent of the county’s 761,753 active registered voters took part in the election,  down from the 2016 presidential election when turnout was 82.5 percent and roughly 563,000 votes were cast. 

In the 2012 general election, the turnout rate was 80.5 percent

“This election year was unlike any other we have ever seen,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “Our turnout throughout the process was truly encouraging and spoke to our residents’ faith in the democratic process.”

Fairfax County voters strongly favored Democrats in this year’s election, supporting Joe Biden over incumbent President Donald Trump and reelecting Sen. Mark Warner, Rep. Don Beyer (8th District), Rep. Jennifer Wexton (10th District), and Rep. Gerry Connolly (11th District) to Congress. Precinct-level reporting offering some variation.

It’s important to note that while turnout did not break records, the number of registered voters went up significantly from around 683,000 in 2016 to 761,573 this year. More than two-thirds of votes cast were absentee votes due to no-excuse absentee voting.

The county expects to officially certify election results on Nov. 16.

The Hunter Mill District boasted the highest turnout for the election. More than 81 percent of the Hunter Mill District’s 93,193 active registered voters cast a ballot in the Nov. 3 election, either in person on Election Day or absentee. The district is also the only one in the county with over 90,000 active registered voters as of Oct. 30. Springfield District had the second highest turnout at 80.8%

In the Town of Herndon, Vice Mayor Sheila Olem swept up the Mayoral election with a resounding 61 percent of total votes. Roland Taylor took. 38 percent of the total vote.

The winners of the Herndon Town Council election were separated by a handful of votes. Town spokesperson Anne Curtis said the town is expected to announce results once they are certified by the county. On election night, early election results changed dramatically due to a data entry error.

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While Virginia’s U.S. Congressional delegation looks like it will remain largely unchanged after the 2020 general election, voters approved a state constitutional amendment that will reshape the process for how their representatives will be chosen in the future.

One of two statewide referendums on the ballot, Constitutional Amendment 1 shifts responsibility for drawing congressional and state legislative district lines from the Virginia General Assembly to a redistricting commission made up of eight legislators and eight appointed citizens.

According to the Virginia Department of Elections unofficial returns, Amendment 1 passed with 65.91% of voters casting their ballot in favor of it, though a few precincts had not yet reported results by Wednesday night and the results will not be official until they are certified on Nov. 16.

Fairfax County approved the measure by a smaller margin than the overall state, with 53.69% of voters supporting it and 46.31% opposing.

“From the start, this movement has been about putting the voices of citizens above politicians and political parties. Today, Virginia voters spoke loud and clear in approving Amendment 1,” Fair Maps VA executive director Brian Cannon and campaign co-chairs Wyatt Durrette and Bobby Vassar said in a joint statement on Wednesday (Nov. 4).

Fair Maps VA is a nonprofit advocacy organization formed in July by OneVirginia2021, the coalition of policymakers and citizens that spearheaded the redistricting commission proposal.

With Virginia set to redraw district lines next year, Fair Maps VA says the proposed commission will combat partisan gerrymandering by giving members of the public “a seat at the table” instead of leaving redistricting exclusively in the hands of legislators, as previously dictated by the Constitution of Virginia.

The General Assembly will vote on new district maps, but it will not be able to change them. If new maps are not approved by set deadlines, the Supreme Court of Virginia will draw them.

“In creating a bipartisan redistricting commission…[voters] said they want a transparent redistricting process,” Cannon, Durrette, and Vassar said. “They want civil rights protections to be added to the state constitution for the very first time. And they said that they want to end partisan gerrymandering in Virginia once and for all.”

However, opponents argue the proposed commission still gives lawmakers too much authority in the once-a-decade redistricting process, allowing them to shape district boundaries to benefit themselves or their party.

Some are wary of the role judges will play in the new process. In addition to giving the Supreme Court the power to draw district maps if necessary, the amendment puts retired circuit court judges in charge of selecting citizens that legislators will ultimately appoint to the commission.

Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus criticized the amendment for not guaranteeing representation on the commission for people of color, who are often targeted by gerrymandering.

“I was a little surprised at the lopsidedness of the outcome,” Del. Marcus Simon (D-53rd District) said of Amendment 1’s passage. “I hoped we would’ve done a better job at communicating some of the flaws with the constitutional amendment and convincing folks that we can do a better job of redistricting reform without the amendment than with it.”

Like many other Democrats, Simon initially supported the amendment when legislation to put it on the ballot passed the General Assembly in 2019, but he reversed his position when the issue came up again, as required by state law, during the 2020 session.

Now that the amendment has passed, however, Simon says the General Assembly can craft legislation to address the issues that people have raised, such as bills to establish qualifications for citizens appointed to the commission, ensure diverse representation, and limit the Supreme Court’s discretion.

With the General Assembly still in a special session first convened in August to address the state budget and criminal justice reform, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam will likely introduce the first set of enabling legislation for the redistricting commission by the end of this week, and state lawmakers could vote on the proposals early next week, according to Simon.

“I think we can continue to work on a better constitutional amendment for 2031,” Simon said. “So, I plan to start working right away to try to get us to achieve truly independent and nonpartisan redistricting, if not in time for this redistricting, then for the future.”

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Even as ballots are cast today, Fairfax County is already boasting a record turnout,  thanks in large part to a surge in early voting.

Before Election Day, 399,600 votes were cast, equaling 70 percent of the total votes cast in the 2016 presidential election.

It’s still unclear if the county will break its 2016 record of 82.5 percent,  which exceeded the statewide average.

As of 4 p.m. today, county officials estimate a 16.1 percentage voter turnout for today and an overall turnout of roughly 71 percent.

With early voting taken into account, that turnout jumps to 51 percent. Voters turnout out in drives due in part to legislation allowing no-excuse absentee voting this year.

Residents have reported short lines at polling precincts.

Some voters reported issues with residents failing to wear masks inside voting precincts, especially at Reston Community Center. Voters are strongly encouraged to wear masks and socially distanced.

Despite concerns about voter intimidation in the lead-up to Election Day, Fairfax County public information officer Brian Worthy says the county has not experienced any issues with voting at its 244 precincts so far, and turnout has been “light as expected” due to the high levels of early voters.

Angela Woolsey contributed reporting to this story.

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After long lines for early voting, Election Date is finally here. so far, the county has unofficially reported more than 399,600 votes cast. County officials say this is 70 percent of the total votes cast in the 2016 presidential election and 50 percent of registered county voters have already cast their ballots. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know before you head to the polls today.

Casting Your Ballot

All polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Reston. An acceptable form for identification is required. Voters are encouraged to wear masks or face coverings and remain socially distanced using markers placed outside polling places to help voters stand six feet apart. Note that several Fairfax County Park Authority polling sites will be open only to voters today, including Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center in Herndon.

Voters can return mail-in ballots at a ballot drop-off box, which will be available at every polling place today (Tuesday). A 24-hour box outside the Fairfax County Government will be available until 7 p.m. Ballots that are mailed must be postmarked by Nov. 3. If you plan to use a drop-off box, make sure the “b” envelope is inside your returning mail envelope. Further instructions, which will help the county process ballots faster, are available on the county’s website.

What’s On Your Ballot

The following is a breakdown of what to expect on your ballot. Sample ballots are available online.

President and Vice President

  • Joseph R. Biden, President and Kamala D. Harris, Vice President: Democrat
  • Donald J. Trump, President and Michael R. Pence, Vice President – Republican
  • Jo Jorgensen, President and Jeremy F. “Spike” Cohen, Vice President – Libertarian

Member, United States Senate

  • Mark R. Warner – Democrat
  • Daniel M. Gade – Republican

Member House of Representatives, 11th District

  • Gerry E. “Gerry” Connolly – Democrat
  • Manga A. Anantatmula – Republican

The Town of Herndon

Town residents will vote for a new mayor from two candidates: Sheila Olem and Roland Taylor. Eight residents are running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council. You can read their candidate statements in the links below, if they provided to Reston Now.

Constitutional Amendments

Amendment #1 proposes that the creation of a redistricting commission with eight General Assembly members and eight state citizens o draw congressional and state legislative districts. The General Assembly would vote on the changes without proposing any changes. If the commission fails to draw districts or the General Assembly fails to enact districts by set deadlines, the responsibility of drawing districts would fall on the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Amendment #2 is written as follows: Should an automobile or pickup truck that is owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be free from state and local taxation?

Bond Questions

Public libraries: Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue bonds in addition to the public library facilities bonds previously authorized, in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $90,000,000 for the purpose of providing funds, with any other available funds, to finance the cost to provide public library facilities, including the construction, reconstruction, enlargement, and equipment of existing and additional library facilities and the acquisition of necessary land?

Transportation bonds: Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue bonds, in addition to the transportation improvements and facilities bonds previously authorized, in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $160,000,000 for the purpose of financing Fairfax County’s share, under the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Compact, of the cost of constructing, reconstructing, improving, and acquiring transportation improvements and facilities, including capital costs of land, transit facilities, rolling stock, and equipment in the Washington metropolitan area?

Community health and human services bonds: Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue bonds, in addition to the human services facilities bonds previously authorized, in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $79,000,000 for the purpose of providing funds, with any other available funds, to finance the cost to provide community health and human services facilities, including the construction, reconstruction, enlargement, and equipment of existing and additional community health and human services facilities and the acquisition of necessary land?

Parks and parks facilities bonds

Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue bonds, in addition to the parks and park facilities bonds previously authorized, in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $112,000,000 for the following purposes: (i) $100,000,000 principal amount to finance the Fairfax County Park Authority’s cost to acquire, construct, reconstruct, develop, and equip additional parks and park facilities, to preserve open-space land, and to develop and improve existing parks and park facilities; and (ii) $12,000,000 principal amount to finance Fairfax County’s contribution to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to acquire, construct, reconstruct, develop, and equip parks and park facilities?

Other Items of Note

Voters should call the Fairfax County Police Department’s non-emergency number at 703-691-2131 to report any disruptions to voting. The following activities are prohibited by state law:

  • Loitering, campaigning or congregating within 40 feet of a polling place’s entrance
  • Using a loudspeaker within 300 feet of a polling place
  • Falsely assuming or exercising the powers, duties or functions of any county, city, state, or federal law-enforcement officer.

Results will be available on the Virginia Department of Elections’ website. Absentee ballots may be accepted until noon on Friday, Nov. 6.

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Reston’s North County Governmental Center is one of the most popular spots for early voting in Fairfax County.

While turnout through the county — and country — is high, the Reston location has seen one of the highest turnouts of the county’s 13 satellite voting locations.

Overall, voters are coming out in droves in the county. So far, 301,000 ballots have been cast in total — almost more than 2.5 times more than the total number of absentee votes cast in 2016, according to county officials.

More than 7,300 ballots have been cast at the North County Governmental Center followed by about 6,100 ballots at the Herndon Fortnightly Library and 1,400 at Great Falls Library, which is only open on Saturdays and opened for voting on Oct. 17.

County officials caution that wait times are still long.

“It takes 25 minutes or much longer depending on the place, day and time when voting,” said county spokesperson Brian Worthy.

The county has added two extra hours for early voting tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday. The change applies to 13 early voting sites, which typically open at 11 a.m. The hours at the Fairfax County Government Center remain unchanged.

Other than long waiting times, voting operations have been going relatively smoothly. The county swiftly moved to expand the number of satellite locations following arduous waiting times earlier this month.

While most voters have been masked, some residents have complained about party representatives failing to do so.

Worthy noted that while all individuals are encouraged to wear face coverings, the actions of party representatives cannot be controlled outside the 40-foot limit where campaigning is allowed.

The deadline for early voting this year is 5 p.m. on Oct. 31. Absentee ballots can be delivered by hand until 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 or by mail until noon on Nov. 6.

At this point, Worthy said it’s unclear how this year’s voting procedures will be adapted in future elections.

After the 2020 election is finished, the Fairfax County Office of Elections will look at any lessons learned–but it’s too early to look back in the past since the office is focused on Election Day which is now just [six] days away.”

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Extra Early Voting Hours Added — The county has added two extra hours on early voting tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday. All sites will now open at 11 a.m., except for the Fairfax County Government Center, where voting still begins at 8 a.m. [Fairfax County Government]

Local Officer Honored for Being ‘True American Hero’ — Weblos, Den 1, Pack 913 from St. Joe’s honored Officer Murn for being a “true American hero.” [Herndon Police Department]

Reston Collects 303 Pounds of Old Meds — The Reston District Station and Reston Hospital Center collected 303 pounds of old medicines during the 19th annual National Drug Take Back Day this past weekend. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo by Elizabeth Copson

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Thursday Morning Notes

Dense Fog Advisory In Effect — The National Weather Service has issued a dense fog advisory until 10 a.m. today. Drivers should slow use, use car headlights, and leave plenty of distance between vehicles. [NWS]

Solutions Proposed to Reduce Early Voting Wait Times — With less than two weeks until Election Day, Fairfax’s NAACP President Sean Perryman says that the county should improve wait times for early voting. He sent a letter to county officials calling on measures like extending voting hours. [WJLA]

Reston Contractor Wins $135M Task Order — “Reston-based AceInfo Solutions LLC  announced Tuesday it had been awarded a potential five-year, $135 million task order from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).” [Virginia Business]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Thursday Morning Notes

A Review of Bonchon in Plaza America — “Locals can now celebrate the reopening of area restaurants, and for Reston residents, a big culinary–and exotic–treat has opened in Plaza America, a few doors down from Whole Foods. That’s Bonchon, a Korean restaurant group that offers both traditional and modernized Korean chicken dishes, plus much more. For anyone who craves chicken in any way, shape, or form, Bonchon is an ideal destination.” [Reston Connection]

Lasagna Love Helps Fight Food Insecurity — An association manager professional from Reston is using her love for cooking to help feed people facing food insecurity to the pandemic. [Reston Patch]

New Pumping Carving Contest Comes to Reston   Reston Association is challenging residents to create designs on pumpkins in “The Greatest Pumping Carving Contest.” Winners will be announced on Oct. 30. Registration is required. [RA]

More Time to Register to VoteA federal court has extended Virginia’s voter registration deadline after an accidentally clipped fiber optic cable took down the Department of Elections website on Tuesday for hours on the final day of voter registration. Voters in Virginia will now be able to register until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, in person or online. [NPR]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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