Voting Place Sign, by Jonathan
As we close in on the election next Tuesday, the press has been having a field day with the “early voting” going on across the country. Not to be left out, and having to file an absentee ballot myself, I decided to see just what was happening in Arlington.
First, all the registrars wanted me to point out that no one in the area has “Early Voting”. Maryland, Virginia, and the District all provide for Absentee Ballots, which means you can only vote early if you have a valid reason. Both the District and Virginia provide for absentee voting in person or by mail. In Maryland, you can only vote Absentee by mail. And that deadline has already passed, so if you missed the absentee ballot in Maryland your only chance is Tuesday. (Don did a great job of covering all the details in his previous post, so I won’t belabor the point.)
So, if you want to vote in person, when should you go?
The answer is “ask for two hours off, and go over right now.”
Absentee Voting Line in Arlington, by Jonathan
I submitted my ballot in Arlington yesterday, where I found the line there was 45 minutes long. I asked the registrar and several of the staff if that was normal, and they said yes. The line starts before they even arrive, so there is no good time to show up. The 45 minute line continues pretty much all day. The poll workers have things pretty much in hand for the week, and the line moves along. But they recommend you bring a book, iPod, or other distraction for the wait.
Saturday, they reported, is going to be much worse. Last Saturday, in the rain, they had lines over 90 minutes long for the entire day. That was the week before the election, and they expect things to be even crazier this weekend. The registrar said they were processing about 1100 ballots each weekday, and expected to do twice that on Saturday.
Wait Time From This Point, by Jonathan
The registrar politely asked that everyone who could should try to get in before the Saturday rush.
Voting hours for Wednesday – Thursday are 8 am to 7 pm. Friday is 8 am to 5 pm. Saturday is 8:30 am to 5 pm, and anyone in line at 5 pm will be able to vote.
Fairfax Seal, by Jonathan
How about Fairfax? So I took a drive out to see how Fairfax was handling things. The assistant registrar out there told me that they had lines of only 15-20 minutes during this week. And Fairfax has eight other absentee voting locations, so there are multiple choices all with short lines during the week.
Fairfax is also expecting a crush of voters this weekend. They expected 45-60 minute waits at the main office, and waits could be up to 90 minutes at the Springfield center. Not surprisingly, they also recommended that voters try to get to the offices before Saturday, and avoid the rush. Alternatively, the more distant locations will have shorter lines, but the longer drive might eat up the saved time.
Voting hours for the Government Center location are Wednesday – Friday are 8 am to 8 pm. Saturday is 9 am to 5 pm. Anyone in line at 5 pm on Saturday will be able to vote. Satellite locations are open Wednesday – Friday 1 pm to 8 pm , and Saturday 9 am tp 5 pm.
I didn’t have a chance to stop by Alexandria, but i have heard it is a lot like Arlington. I’ll post an update tomorrow if I can get in touch with them. Alexandria, like Arlington, has only one location for Absentee Voting,
Voting hours for Wednesday – Friday are 8 am to 5 pm, and Saturday will also be 8 am to 5 pm. Anyone in line at 5 pm will be able to vote.