It will be a long time before the delays, confusion and disputes that surrounded the election process in Fairfax County are forgotten. Voters stood in long lines far into the night, then in many cases were turned away when they tried to vote, leading to accusations of voter suppression and discrimination.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova says she will recommend creation of a bipartisan commission to review and make recommendations regarding the election process. The commission will be asked to concentrate on ways to improve the countyâ€™s efficiency on Election Day, with a specific focus on addressing wait times, long lines, and other voting issues.
In a prepared statement, Bulova noted that voter turnout in Fairfax County this year was 80.5%. In the last presidential election the turnout was 78.7% (with 72,501 fewer registered voters than today). While voting went smoothly in some locations, it was not unusual for voters to wait for more than an hour and in some cases, much longer. 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.
â€œWhile altogether the day went well, I think it would be beneficial to examine what lessons we can learn from the 2012 Election,â€ Bulova said. â€œI 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.â€
Purged from the rolls
Among those Bulova of her commission might want to talk today is Charles Crawford of Great Falls. A retired diplomat, Crawford has been registered at his current address for more than 20 years yet when he showed up to vote Tuesday, he was told he was not registered, an incident originally reported by the Not Larry Sabato blog.
Crawford went home and began researching the problem. He soon learned that Fairfax County Clerk John T. Frey, a Republican, had included Crawford on a list of 2,000 people whose names should be purged because they had not shown up for jury duty. Crawford said he had not been summoned for jury duty for years and the last time he was called, he was excused because he was a member of the Foreign Service stationed overseas.
Crawford was finally allowed to cast a conditional ballot, which will be considered by the three-member Fairfax County Electoral Board. By law, the board consists of one Republican, one Democrat and one member of the Governor’s party — or, in other words, two Republicans and one Democrat.
The GOP-appointed member in Fairfax is Hans von Spakovsky, a Heritage Foundation official and nationally-known, highly vocal advocate of disenfranchising poor and minority voters.