Will you be outside Fairfax County on Tue., Nov 5, for any period of time for school, work, errands, appointment, or vacation? Then you have the right (or should it be the duty?) to vote early and be sure your vote is counted.
But act quickly, early voting ends this Sat., Nov. 2, at 5 pm.
Virginia can be a confusing place to vote early. It doesn’t even use the term “early voting” officially. What you are doing is “absentee in-person voting.”
But on the positive side, an estimated 80% of Northern Virginians qualify to vote early, based on one or more of the 20 reasons given on the form that voters fill out at the polling station when they arrive to vote early.
Almost half of Fairfax County (45%) qualifies just for leaving the county for work — even more in Arlington (67%), Alexandria (73%), Prince William County (64%) and Loudoun County (57%).
Yet, in practice, only 8% of Virginian voters on average voted early over the last four elections. This hits Democrats hard as early voting is disproportionately used by core Democratic constituencies – young, minority, and lower income – who are often less likely to vote on Election Day.
You qualify to vote early if, for example:
- You go to work outside the county. Check 1C
- You attend class at a college outside the county. Check 1A (or 1B if your spouse is doing so)
- You have a doctor’s appointment, errand, meeting, visit or other personal business outside the county. Check 1D
- You are vacationing outside the county. Remember, Nov. 5 falls during a 4-day school holiday this year! Check 1D
- You are disabled or ill (Check 2A), or caring for a disabled or ill family member at home. (Check 2B)
- You are pregnant. Check 2C
The rules, together with a complete list of the qualifications, are on the state Dept. of Elections website here.
What can you to do boost Democratic turnout?
First, vote early yourself. Go to the Fairfax County Democratic Committee voter information page and click on “Voting Early (in-person absentee)” where you’ll find complete details for how, when and where to vote early. In Fairfax County, you can vote early at Government Center (weekdays 8 am- 7 pm, Saturday 9 am- 5 pm), or any of nine convenient satellite locations (weekdays 3pm- 7pm, Saturday 9am- 5pm).
Second, click on the “Blue Wave” logo on the FCDC voter information page and sign up for Election Alerts (or simply click here). Then forward the automatic confirmation e-mail to friends and family so you can not only vote early yourself but empower them to do it, too!
Remember, when Democrats vote, we win. This year, with some tight races and a majority in the General Assembly in the balance, early voting might make the difference.
Reported by Todd Thurwachter, member of FCDC Voter Registration & Education Committee and Providence District Democratic Committee
Photo: Providence District Democratic Committee volunteers Randy Butler and Adrienne Stefan handing out sample ballots during early voting at the Providence Community Center/ Photo by Todd Thurwachter
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