There’s been a significant amount of media attention given to voters standing in line for hours on end to cast their ballot here in Fairfax County that’s prompted public discussion about how the issue could potentially be addressed. While it was originally unclear if they’d be able to find poll workers who could cover extended voting hours, the good news is the county’s announced it’s extending early voting hours on Thursday October 29th and Friday October 30th.
The change will only be implemented at the satellite voting locations, which means the hours will remain the same at the “main” government center. The additional two hours earlier on Thursday and Friday means satellite locations will now be open at 11am and remain open until 7pm.
These changes are in addition to the county government center being open to voters from 8am to 7pm through Friday. On top of that, the government center and all of the county’s 14 satellite locations will then be open from 9am to 5pm on Halloween (Saturday, October 31st).
For those who might not be able to make it to the polling locations until closer to closing time, it should be noted that you simply have to be in line by the listed time. On Friday, for instance, anybody who is in line by 7pm will be able to cast their ballot no matter how the wait. Since there were reports of Republican activists spreading misinformation about this at polling locations inside the county’s more diverse districts, community leaders have been actively working on ensuring Fairfax residents have accurate information about when the cutoff is for voters to be in line.
The hope is the increased hours at the satellite locations will help lower wait times that have been high due to so many people voting early in person. Through Saturday the 24th, for instance, 282,262 Fairfax County residents had already cast their ballot despite there still being a week left of early voting. In comparison, 118,843 voters voted early in the entire election back in 2016.
Considering how there’s been a steady flow of voters over the course of the last few days, this means 2020 will likely see at least three times as many Fairfax residents vote early than 2016.