The Fairfax County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is calling on the county's Electoral Board to make swift changes as residents continue to stand in long lines for early voting.
"Since early voting began in mid-September, Fairfax County residents have stood in lines of four hours and longer to vote," the NAACP chapter said in a release. "We were told that once satellite locations opened in October, the lines would become manageable. However, this is not the case, and now we have many lines averaging four hours all over the county."
The chapter called for the Electoral Board to make the following changes in coordination with the Board of Supervisors:
- Increase voting hours at each location
- Hire more election workers for non-credentialed jobs to support extended hours, relieving credentialed staff to focus on poll-related activities
- Ensure that every available room is used at each satellite location
- Implement IT and hardware solutions to wiring requirements to expand capacity
- Work with the planning office/magisterial district office, or responsible parties to identify most efficient traffic patterns at satellite locations
- Create an easy to understand way-finding system to help direct voters to the proper queue, i.e. to find ballot dropbox or in- person voting lines
- Create a separate line for the 14% of individuals bringing absentee ballots to be spoiled
- Expand the registration space at each location to accommodate the initial sign-in before voters reach the polling office, thereby moving people through the line faster
In a statement to News4, Fairfax County Director of Elections Gary Scott says the county has already exceeded the number of people who voted early in 2016, with about 9,000 voting per day and 11,000 votes cast on Saturday — more than the single largest day in 2016.
Scott said the county is working to improve the speed of voting while still maintaining safety during the pandemic.
“This includes adding more poll workers, adjusting procedures and changing the layout of polling places where possible. It can between 25 minutes to 2 hours to vote depending on the location, day of the week and time of day," Scott said. "We want to make voting even faster of course. However, we face a challenge as we work to keep voters and our poll workers safe. As a precaution, we’re limiting the number of people in the polls at one time."