001. INTRODUCTION: Election Officer Basics
Welcome to the Election Officer Basics online training class!
This class will go over all information you need to know before your first election. If you are a returning election officer, this class will serve as a helpful refresher and will help satisfy the state-mandated training requirement for the duration of your current appointment term.
002. INTRODUCTION: Class Notes
Review all information in these slides and notes at your own pace. You can click the ‘pause’ button anytime; there is also a written transcription below each slide. When you’re done, you can also view all slides and text on one page by clicking the “Slide Summary” link in the top right.
We will go over all information you need to know for any election, including basic information for all election officers, procedures for opening the polls on election day, acceptable IDs, how to use the Poll Pads to check in voters, how to use the ExpressVote to mark a ballot, how to use the DS200 scanner to cast ballots, and procedures for closing the polls on election day.
At the end, you must complete a quiz to receive credit for this class.
003. BASIC INFORMATION: Introduction
Let’s start by going over the basic information you need to know to be an election officer.
004. BASIC INFORMATION: Election Officer Basics
WORKING HOURS: Election officers should be inside the polling place and ready to go by 5:00 AM. The day ends when all work is complete & you are released by the Chief. Voting ends at 7:00 PM and it takes most precincts 1-2 hours to finish closing the polling place.
COMPENSATION: You are paid $175 for a full day of service. Officers who arrive late (after 5:00 AM) may be penalized $25 or dismissed immediately. We strongly encourage you to set multiple alarms so this doesn’t happen!
WHAT TO BRING: You should bring all food, medicine, and reading material you need for the day. Note that reading material may not be politically-oriented, such as a newspaper. You may bring electronic devices such as a phone or tablet, but you may not use them while assisting voters.
WHAT TO WEAR: Dress should be business casual. Clean, unripped jeans are acceptable. The temperature can vary at polling places and it can change during the day, so wear layers! Of course, clothing should not be politically-oriented or offensive in nature. And wear comfortable shoes; it’s a long day!
DURING THE DAY: You may not comment on candidates or political issues, current or past. It’s very important to note that you can’t leave the polling place premises during the day, so again, make sure to bring everything you need with you for the day. You can, of course, go get something from your car or have a friend or family member drop off items to you.
005. BASIC INFORMATION: People at the Polling Place
Who are the people in the polling place?
006. BASIC INFORMATION: Timeline
This is the timeline before, on, and after election day.
007. BASIC INFORMATION: Polling Place Etiquette
As an election officer, it is vitally important to always be professional and polite in the polling place. Always ask before assisting a voter - sometimes, they may not want assistance. Be mindful of your verbal and non-verbal communication at all times.
You should never tell a voter that they cannot vote; instead, direct them to the Chief or Assistant Chief, who can assist them and offer a provisional ballot as needed.
Do not touch voters without their permission.
Avoid all political topics, especially anything that may be on the ballot, whether or not voters are present in the room.
Perception is everything, so always be aware of your words and actions. You are representing Fairfax County! If you have any questions or are unsure of what is acceptable, contact us before or on election day.
008. BASIC INFORMATION: Assistance & Accessibility
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE: If a voter needs help in the voting booth, there is a procedure in place for that which the Chief handles. The voter selects an assistant and both must sign the Request for Assistance form. The assistant can be a family member or friend with them. The assistant can also be an election officer such as you! Note that if the assistant is 15 or younger, no form is required.
LANGUAGE SERVICES: If voters need help in another language, we offer multiple services. For example, many precincts are assigned Language Officers, who have been assessed for their language skills and can help translate (if a Language Officer assists a voter in the voting booth, they would complete a Request for Assistance form). There is also a phone translation service for more than 100 languages. All signs and documents are also translated into 4 languages: English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean.
VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES: If a voter appears to have a disability, be respectful and always ask before assisting them. If a voter has limited vision or limited motor skills, you can inform them they can use the ExpressVote to mark their ballot.
009. BASIC INFORMATION: Inside the Polling Place
AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVES: Representatives of a party or candidate are allowed anywhere inside a polling place as long as they don’t impede voters or touch voting equipment. Authorized Representatives may stay and observe closing procedures but, if they do, they cannot leave the room or report results early. If an Authorized Representative comes to your precinct, send them to the Chief!
NEWS MEDIA & INTERVIEWS: If someone wants to conduct an interview, call the Chief! They may provide basic facts (e.g. number of voters checked in) but cannot give opinions or forecasts. For anything further, call the Office of Elections.
ELECTRONICS: Voters ARE allowed to use personal electronic devices inside a polling place to take photos, make calls, etc. They are also allowed to take a “selfie” of themselves and/or their ballot. If they want to take a photo that includes other voters, they must ask for and receive permission from those voters first.
010. BASIC INFORMATION: Outside the Polling Place
Outside the polling place, there is a 40-foot Prohibited Area, which provides voters unimpeded access to the building.
State law prohibits loitering, congregating, or electioneering within 40 feet of a polling place entrance (i.e. the building entrance, NOT the voting room entrance). Restricted activities include, but are not limited to, campaigning, handing out flyers, and bake sales.
These activities are permitted outside of the 40-foot Prohibited Area.
011. BASIC INFORMATION: Knowledge Check
Time for a knowledge check!
012. OPENING PROCEDURES: Introduction
Let’s go over how to open the polls on election day.
013. OPENING PROCEDURES: Election Morning
At 5:00 AM, the Chief will swear in all officers. Then, the Chief will divide you into teams to complete the following tasks before 6:00 AM, when polls open:
Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize anything! The Chief will have one-page guides with instructions for setting up and closing the Poll Pads, ExpressVote, and DS200 scanners.
014. OPENING PROCEDURES: Oath and Compensation Sheet
All election officers must sign two documents during Opening Procedures.
015. OPENING PROCEDURES: Posting Signs
The Chief has a list indicating which signs must be posted inside the polling place and which signs must be posted outside the polling place.
There is one sign that’s a bit tricky - that’s the Prohibited Area and Activities sign. It describes activities that are not permitted inside the polling place, but it must be posted in a place that is always visible from OUTSIDE the polling place. We suggest posting it on the door to the polling place. If the door is propped open, be sure the sign is clearly visible to the approaching voters.
Finally, if you’re the officer designated to post the outside signs, you may also be asked to mark the 40-foot Prohibited Area line outside the entrance to the polling place building. Don’t worry, the Chief will have a rope with measured increments, chalk, and safety tape to help you mark the 40-foot Prohibited Area properly. Be sure to mark the area early, before campaigners and bake sales get set up.
016. OPENING PROCEDURES: Voting Equipment
These are the 3 types of voting equipment we just mentioned. We will go into more detail about each type of voting equipment later in this training, but here’s a quick rundown:
017. OPENING PROCEDURES: Poll Pad Assembly Video
This video will show you how to set up the Poll Pads.
018. OPENING PROCEDURES: ExpressVote
The ExpressVote ballot marking device is the easiest piece of equipment to set up in the polling place. All you have to do is remove it from its case, plug it in, unlock it, and turn it on. It’s that simple.
Again, you will have a one-page guide with step-by-step instructions.
019. OPENING PROCEDURES: DS200 Digital Scanner
Now let’s talk about the DS200 digital scanner. It’s actually a very simple machine:
020. OPENING PROCEDURES: DS200 Opening Procedures Video
This video will show you how to open and set up the DS200 digital scanners.
021. OPENING PROCEDURES: Machine Certification Form
This is the Machine Certification Form. As you open and close your DS200s on election day, you will need to use this form.
During opening procedures, election officers will compare the pre-printed seal and counter numbers in the green table to those on the DS200 to ensure they match. If the numbers do not match, stop and notify your Chief, who will contact our office for next steps.
022. DURING THE DAY: Introduction
We will now go over everything you need to know during the day of the election, including how to use the Poll Pads to check in voters, how to use the ExpressVote, and how to help voters use the DS200 scanners.
023. DURING THE DAY: Voting Room Layout
This is a sample room layout to give you an idea of the flow inside a voting room.
The voting room should be set up to have the voter move in a circular fashion, without crossing the paths of other voters, and with an election officer at each station to help guide them.
The absentee ballot drop box should be monitored by the greeter if placed outside the voting room entrance. Your Chief may decide that it is more practical to position the drop box inside the voting room of your precinct. In this case, another officer, such as one stationed at the check-in tables, should monitor the drop box.
024. DURING THE DAY: Election Officer Duties
During the day, election officers should be prepared to perform the following duties:
As you take turns performing these duties throughout the voting day, remember that your job is to efficiently process routine voters, who will be more than 95% of all voters. If you encounter a non-routine voter, just send them to the Chief or Assistant Chief!
025. DURING THE DAY: Acceptable IDs
Now let’s go over which IDs are acceptable for voting purposes.
026. DURING THE DAY: List of Acceptable IDs
We are about to go over which IDs are acceptable and which IDs are not acceptable for voting.
But don’t worry! On election day, you will have plenty of copies of a 1-page list of all acceptable IDs. You will keep these at your check-in table and reference them as needed.
027. DURING THE DAY: Which IDs are Accepted?
There are many IDs that are acceptable for voting purposes:
028. DURING THE DAY: Which IDs are Not Accepted?
There are also many IDs that you cannot accept for voting.
029. DURING THE DAY: Sample IDs
Here are some samples of valid IDs. They include:
Note that many of these IDs do not have an address or expiration date, but they are still valid for voting.
030. DURING THE DAY: Sample ID Documents
Here are some additional samples of documents that are valid for voting purposes:
Note that the Code of Virginia states that all of these documents must be “current” - this is considered as issued within the last 12 months.
If you’re unsure about a particular ID, ask your Chief or Assistant Chief! They receive additional training on how to handle non-routine voter situations.
031. DURING THE DAY: Digital Copies of IDs
Voters may show you an electronic version of some IDs in lieu of a physical version. For example, they could show you one of these documents on their smartphone.
An electronic form of the following documents is acceptable for voting purposes: a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document containing the name and address of the voter.
032. DURING THE DAY: About Addresses...
What about the address on a voter’s ID? You should disregard it.
You must instead always use the address that the voter provides during the check-in process. Remember, a voter may provide their address orally, in writing, or they may simply point to their ID.
033. DURING THE DAY: About Expiration Dates...
One piece of information that is on some IDs but not others is the expiration date. How do you handle this?
For most IDs, if it does not have an expiration date, that’s OK. As long as it is a valid form of ID for voting, you can automatically accept it. If the ID does have an expiration date listed, then it can be used for up to 12 months past the expiration date. After that, it is no longer valid for voting.
There is one major exception to this rule. The Code of Virginia now specifically says that a driver’s license may be used for voting, regardless of when it expired.
In terms of the documents that can be accepted for voting purposes, note that a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document must not be more than 12 months old. Don’t forget to look for a date on these documents!
034. DURING THE DAY: What if Voter has No Acceptable ID?
If a voter does not present an acceptable form of ID, call the Chief! The Chief will offer the voter an ID Confirmation Statement. As you can see, it’s a quick form to fill out!
By completing this short form, a voter would be allowed to vote normally. That means you would issue them a regular ballot, they would mark it at the polling place, and they would cast it in a DS200 scanner.
035. DURING THE DAY: Additional Notes
A few additional notes:
The name on someone’s ID does not have to exactly match how it appears on the electronic pollbook. For example, someone’s ID may say “Bill” but the pollbook says “William.” As long as you can reasonably confirm the person in front of you is the person in the pollbook, you may check them in.
If someone provides you a different form of ID, you may not ask for their driver’s license instead just because it’s easier to scan on the Poll Pads. This is against the law! If you notice a fellow officer doing this on election day, alert the Chief or our office.
Lastly, you may sometimes get voters who are 17 years old in a primary election. If they are registered and listed in the Poll Pad, they are permitted to vote! The law says that any registered voter who will be 18 years old by the date of a general election may vote in its corresponding primary.
036. DURING THE DAY: When in Doubt...
If you’re not sure how to handle a situation, send the voter to the Chief or Assistant Chief! The Chief and Assistant Chief are trained to handle non-routine voters and other issues. If they can’t figure it out, they will call our office for assistance.
037. DURING THE DAY: ID Review
Let’s do a quick review. Which of these IDs is acceptable? Which is not? Why? Take a moment to think about these questions before you read the answer below.
038. DURING THE DAY: Knowledge Check
Time for a knowledge check!
039. DURING THE DAY: Poll Pads and Checking In Voters
Let’s go over how to use the Poll Pads to check-in voters.
040. DURING THE DAY: Scan Driver's License
For the vast majority of voters, you will simply scan their driver’s license.
Scanning a voter’s driver license is very easy! You simply place the license in the scanning tray, which is attached to the back of the Poll Pad. Make sure the barcode is facing the Poll Pad camera. Then the Poll Pad will scan the barcode and open the voter’s record automatically.
If this does not work or the voter provides a different form of acceptable ID, you can find them using a manual search.
041. DURING THE DAY: Poll Pad Check-In Video
This video will show you how to check in voters on the Poll Pad.
042. DURING THE DAY: Check-In Flags
As we mentioned, when you select a voter to check in, you will be presented with three possible “flags”:
VOTER SIGNED OATH flag: This flag is used in two different situations.
If someone is an “Inactive voter,” send them to the Chief who may select this flag. Someone may become Inactive if they moved and did not update their voter registration. If they are permitted to vote normally, they must complete an Affirmation of Eligibility form.
If someone does not have an acceptable ID, send them to the Chief. If the voter chooses to complete an ID Confirmation Statement, this flag must be selected.
You may notice there is no Provisional Voter flag. If someone is a Provisional voter, you NEVER check them in on the Poll Pad; instead, immediately refer them to the Chief.
043. DURING THE DAY: Check-In Steps
Now that you know which IDs are acceptable and how to use a Poll Pad, it’s important to understand the full order of steps to checking in a voter.
044. DURING THE DAY: Check-In Tips
Let’s go over some check-in tips to help process voters efficiently.
045. DURING THE DAY: Non-Routine Check-Ins
Remember, MOST check-ins are very simple. For the ones that aren’t, just refer the voter to the Chief.
Issues that may require the Chief’s attention include:
046. DURING THE DAY: ExpressVote Ballot Marking Device
We will now go over how to use the ExpressVote on election day.
047. DURING THE DAY: ExpressVote Ballot Card
Once a voter is checked in, they will either receive a ballot to be hand-marked or an ExpressVote card.
If a voter chooses to use the ExpressVote ballot marking device, they will be issued a blank ExpressVote card to insert into the machine. Once the voter makes their selections, the ExpressVote will print a marked ballot card that voters can then scan themselves. This printed ballot card is equivalent to a regular ballot.
To be counted, either of these ballot types must then be inserted into a DS200 scanner.
048. DURING THE DAY: ExpressVote Information
The ExpressVote is a ballot marking device. It marks and prints a ballot for the voter, who then inserts the printed ballot card into a DS200 to be scanned and counted. So it’s like a large pen!
The ExpressVote is ADA-compliant and offers voters multiple options, including displaying the ballot in multiple languages. The voter can use the touchscreen, audio cues, or the Braille directional pad to make vote selections.
Any voter may choose to use the ExpressVote! Do not question someone’s disability or motivation for using an ExpressVote.
049. DURING THE DAY: ExpressVote Video
This video will show you how to use the ExpressVote.
050. DURING THE DAY: DS200 Ballot Scanners
We will now go over how to use the DS200 ballot scanner.
051. DURING THE DAY: Accepted Ballots
When a voter inserts a regularly marked ballot , the DS200 will accept and scan it. Voters should be encouraged to wait at the machine until the “Thank You” screen is displayed.
The voter will also see this screen if they have an under-voted ballot. This means the voter voted for fewer candidates or contests than they were allowed. For example, in a presidential election, some voters will only vote for president and no other contests on the ballot. Again, in this case, the DS200 will accept the ballot without issue and the “Thank You” screen is displayed.
052. DURING THE DAY: Ballots Needing Confirmation
Most ballots should be accepted by the scanner without issue. However, there are a few cases when the scanner will ask for additional confirmation before accepting the ballot.
One situation is if the voter inserts a blank ballot. This may happen if the voter accidentally does not mark their ballot or perhaps wishes to cast a blank ballot as a protest vote. In this case, the DS200 will confirm they want to cast a blank ballot or give them the option to return the ballot and allow them another opportunity to mark it.
Another situation is an over-voted ballot. This happens when a voter filled in too many ovals in one or more contests. For example, they were only supposed to select one candidate for Mayor, but they couldn’t decide and filled in ovals for two candidates. The DS200 will give them the option to cast the ballot as it is, informing the voter that the over-voted contests will not be counted (other properly-voted contests will be counted). Or the DS200 can return the ballot to the voter, which they can SPOIL and exchange for a new ballot.
In both of these situations, the “Thank You” screen will not appear. Clear visual and audio cues will indicate the scanner did not accept the ballot. If you’re not sure how to handle them, remember your favorite word: “Chief!”
053. DURING THE DAY: Rejected Ballots
Finally, some ballots may be rejected entirely by the DS200.
The most common situation is a mismarked ballot. This is when a voter has made erroneous marks outside the ovals which prevent the scanner from properly reading their selections. In this case, the DS200 will return the ballot, make a loud beeping sound, and display an error screen.
If this happens, ask the voter to first turn the ballot over and insert it again. If it continues to happen, stay at the machine and call the Chief or Assistant Chief. They will review the situation and likely help the voter SPOIL the ballot and issue them a new ballot.
054. DURING THE DAY: Spoiled Ballots
If a voter makes an error on their ballot, they may ask for a new ballot. First, if the voter made selections in any contests, ask them to fill in all bubbles in those contests so no one knows who they intended to vote for. Next, write SPOILED in large letters across the face of the ballot. Give the spoiled ballot to the Chief and issue a new ballot to the voter.
If a voter marked outside of the bubbles or made erroneous marks on the ballot, the DS200 scanner may reject it because it is unreadable. In this situation, you would follow the same steps to SPOIL the ballot and issue a new ballot to the voter.
If a voter has repeated issues marking a ballot correctly, you may want to suggest using the ExpressVote ballot marking device.
055. DURING THE DAY: Void Ballots
Sometimes, a voter does not complete the process of voting. If a voter leaves their ballot in the polling place, they are a FLEEING VOTER.
If the voter left the ballot on the DS200 scanner, you may cast it for them. If it will not scan, the ballot should be put in the DS200 scanner’s auxiliary compartment and hand-counted at the end of the day.
Otherwise, if the voter left the ballot anywhere else in the polling place, such as in a voting booth, call for the Chief. They will write VOID in large letters across the face of the ballot and must return it with other election materials at the end of the day.
056. DURING THE DAY: Absentee Surrendered Ballots
What if a voter requested a mailed absentee ballot, but then wants to vote in-person on election day?
The voter can bring their absentee ballot (marked or unmarked) and surrender it in exchange for a new ballot on election day. In this case, you would write “ABSENTEE SURRENDERED” across the face of the ballot.
057. DURING THE DAY: Knowledge Check
Time for a knowledge check!
058. CLOSING PROCEDURES: Introduction
Let’s now go over how to close the polls on election day.
059. CLOSING PROCEDURES: Closing Procedures Information
At 7:00 PM (or after the last voter leaves), the Chief will lock the voting room and begin closing procedures. The following tasks must be completed before you can leave:
NOTE: Absentee Ballot Collector officers will secure absentee ballots from the drop box, collect the flash drives from the DS200s, and immediately drive them to the Government Center. They are the only officers who will leave the polling place early.
060. CLOSING PROCEDURES: Securing Poll Pads
Once you have powered off the Poll Pads, disassemble and pack them back into the green case and gray bin.
Two officers should seal the Poll Pad case with a red zip-tie seal, record the seal number on the Machine Certification Form, and sign the Machine Certification Form.
061. CLOSING PROCEDURES: ExpressVote
The ExpressVote ballot marking device will be very easy to close and pack.
All you have to do is power it down and return it to its case. It’s that simple.
Again, you will have a one-page guide with step-by-step instructions.
062. CLOSING PROCEDURES: DS200 Closing Procedures Video
This video will show you how to close the DS200 digital scanners.
063. CLOSING PROCEDURES: Machine Certification Form
During closing procedures, use the Machine Certification Form again.
Election officers must record all required numbers in the red table on the form, including the Public and Protected Counter numbers from the DS200 scanners and numbers from red zip-tie seals used to secure various equipment.
Any two officers may sign the bottom of the form.
064. CLOSING PROCEDURES: Statement of Results
The most important document during closing procedures is the Statement of Results (SOR). This is the record of all votes in your precinct. Usually the Chief and Assistant Chief will fill this out, possibly with help from other officers.
Do not leave the polling place without signing the SOR and the SOR copy! Sign on the same numbered row as you did on the Oath and Compensation sheet in the morning. This will help everyone in the precinct check that all documents are signed and is a big help to us here in the office.
065. CLOSING PROCEDURES: Required Signatures
When all work is complete (usually around 9:00 PM), the Chief will dismiss all election officers.
However, before you leave, make sure to confirm with your Chief that you have signed all required documents. If you do not sign a required document, you will have to come to the Office of Elections within 2 days to sign it.
These documents include:
There may also be other documents you are asked to sign, especially if you help close the Poll Pads or DS200s, but the above documents are the ones that ALL officers must sign before leaving the polling place.
066. CLOSING PROCEDURES: After Election Day
The morning after the election, we will send out a post-election survey by email. It only takes 5 minutes to complete and really helps us identify any issues to address and make improvements for future elections. Make sure to complete it as soon as possible, while your memories of election day are fresh.
Due to Fairfax County Government’s rolling pay schedule, you will receive payment 4 to 6 weeks after election day. All election officers are required to enroll in direct deposit, so the payment will automatically show up in your selected bank account. We will email you when the payments have been deposited.
Finally, on behalf of the Fairfax County Office of Elections, we want to thank you for taking this training and being willing to serve as an election officer. We could not conduct successful elections without amazing people like you - so thank you!
067. CONCLUSION: Updates from November 2021 Election
Before you go, we want to bring your attention to some notable updates from the last election.
With each election, we look for ways to update our procedures in order to improve the security, accuracy, and transparency of the election process.
Updates from the November 2021 Election:
Fairfax County moved away from using iSync drives to manually update the voter data file on each Poll Pad. We are now able to complete this process wirelessly with the secure election database. This allows us to have the most up-to-date voter data file and setup more efficiently on election morning.
Curbside procedures remain largely the same for when a voter needs to vote from their car. However, now officers may transport the poll pad outside to complete the check in process in front of the voter.
If you served prior to November 2021, you are likely familiar with spoiled and void ballots. A ballot is marked ‘spoiled’ if a voter makes a mistake and wishes to exchange the ballot, whereas a ballot is marked ‘void’ if the voter leaves and the ballot cannot be cast. A voter may also wish to exchange their mailed absentee ballot at a precinct. In the past, we would designate these as spoiled ballots, as it is another type of exchange. Since November 2021, we now mark these ballots as ‘absentee surrendered’ to distinguish from other types of spoiled ballots.
068. CONCLUSION: Additional Recent Updates
Here are a few other updates that were implemented prior to the November 2021 election:
Voters may deposit their marked absentee ballot in a drop box at any precinct in Fairfax County. Drop boxes appeared in every precinct on election day beginning in November 2020.
In that same election, November 2020, we began assigning collector officers to all precincts. Collector officers leave the polling place once polls have closed with voted absentee ballots and the flash drives from the DS200s to bring them to the Fairfax County Government Center.
The final update we want to share is about the Poll Pad application. If you served prior to the June 2021 election, you may notice the Poll Pad screen looks a bit different, just like when you update an app on your phone! The important thing to remember with this update is to wait until you see the dark blue confirmation screen to indicate that you have successfully checked in a voter.
069. CONCLUSION: Quiz and Contact Information
Congratulations! You have now completed this online class.
To receive credit, you must still take and pass the quiz. You can find the quiz in the Election Officer Portal. Go to the Training tab, scroll down, and look in the bottom-right for a link labeled “Take Quiz.” If you do not pass the quiz the first time, you can take it again. You can have the training materials open to reference as you take the quiz.
This training is now complete. Thank you and we know you’ll do great on election day!