FAQs for the June 2021 Democratic Party Primary Election

Thank you to all of you who submitted questions for our Zoom webinars. If it’s helpful, we have taken the most common questions (and their answers!) from those webinars and are providing them to you on one page here.

Absentee Ballots

  1. Where can I vote early in-person?
    • There are 16 early voting locations around the county! The last day to vote early is Saturday, June 5.
    • Visit our website for exact locations, dates, and hours.
  2. What should I do if a voter brings their absentee ballot to the precinct?
    • DROP-OFF BOX: The voter may deposit their completed absentee ballot envelope in the drop-off box.
    • RETURN BY MAIL: The voter may choose to mail their ballot on election day. Absentee ballots postmarked by election day and received in our office by 12:00 PM on the third day after the election (Friday) may be counted.
    • VOTE IN-PERSON: As in past elections, the voter may choose to surrender their absentee ballot to the Chief and vote a new ballot in-person instead.
  3. Do we check IDs of people dropping off absentee ballots in drop-off boxes?
    • Voters are not required to provide identification or identify themselves when they place a voted absentee ballot envelope in the drop-off box.
  4. Can someone deposit a ballot for a spouse, family member, or friend?
    • Voters are permitted to place more than one voted absentee ballot in the drop-off box.
  5. Can a voter use any drop-off box?
    • Any Fairfax County voter can use a drop-off box at any polling place in the County.
  6. Do co-located precincts each need to set out a drop-off box?
    • Each precinct must set up and monitor a drop-off box. Polling places with co-located precincts will have two drop-off boxes.

Absentee Ballot Collectors

  1. I am assigned as an Absentee Ballot Collector. What are my duties during the day?
    • You will perform all regular officer duties and rotate among stations as designated by the Chief.
    • If the drop-off box fills up during the day, you should remove, count, and secure the absentee ballots.
  2. What are the Absentee Ballot Collectors' duties after the polls close?
    • Immediately after polls close at 7:00 PM, these officers will remove, count, and secure all absentee ballots from the drop-off box. They should also disassemble the drop-off box. These officers must remain outside of the voting room for this process.
    • NEW: These officers will also take custody of a Purple Pouch containing 4 USB flash drives from the two DS200 scanners.
    • These officers will drive the absentee ballot envelopes and the Purple Pouch to the Fairfax County Government Center, then go home. More detailed instructions will be provided before election day.
  3. What should Absentee Ballot Collectors do if there are no absentee ballot envelopes in the drop-off box?
    • These officers should still leave the voting room, disassemble the drop-off box, prepare the manila envelope with labels showing zero ballots inside, and complete the transfer form.
    • These officers should drive the transfer form, the large manila envelope, and the purple pouch with the DS200 media as soon as possible to the Fairfax County Government Center.
  4. How will Absentee Ballot Collectors sign the Statement of Results (SOR) and other closing documents?
    • These officers will not sign any closing documents as they are not in the voting room during closing procedures!
    • The only form Absentee Ballot Collectors should sign after 7:00 PM is the form for recording how many absentee ballot envelopes they are transporting.
    • TIP : Before 7:00 PM, Absentee Ballot Collectors should double-check that they signed the Oath form and Compensation Sheet.

Voter Eligibility

  1. Are only Democrats eligible to vote in this election?
    • In Virginia, voters do not register by party. Any registered voter may vote in this primary.
    • Never ask a voter if they are a Democrat or Republican.
    • Individuals who participated in the May 8 Republican Convention may vote in this election.
  2. Will only "Democratic" voters appear on the Poll Pad?
    • All qualified voters will be listed on the Poll Pad.
    • Again, remember that voters do not register by party in Virginia.
  3. Check-In Reminders
    • Always repeat each voter's name audibly (not the address). Do this every time!
    • Remind the voter that you are checking them into the Democratic Party Primary before tapping the 'Submit' button on the Poll Pad.
    • Remember that you cannot ask for a driver's license if a voter provides a different form of valid ID.
    • Use the Pollbook Officer position description sheet to make sure you are completing all necessary steps for each voter!

General Questions

  1. What if the polling place has different requirements for face coverings that the general guidance from the Office of Elections?
    • IMPORTANT: You must still adhere to face covering requirements set by your polling place (building). For example, FCPS facilities require all visitors to wear a face covering.
  2. How will I know which room to go to or other details about my polling place?
    • Your Chief will contact you by email or phone about a week before election day. They will provide you information about your specific polling place, such as where to park, which building entrance to use, which room is used for voting, and if your facility has any amenities you may use (such as a microwave or refrigerator).
    • When your Chief contacts you, you may also ask them any other questions you have about your specific polling place.
    • If you have general questions about being an election officer, you should call the Office of Elections at 703-324-4735.
  3. How should we handle meals? Should we bring food for the entire day?
    • You should bring all food, medicine, and reading material you need for the day. You can't leave the polling place during the day so make sure to bring everything you need with you!
    • A friend, family member, or delivery service may bring food or other materials to you during the day.
    • You can eat in another room of the building, in your car, in the parking lot, or just outside the building, but you cannot leave the polling place premises. If you do, you will not be permitted to return and your pay will be docked.
  4. What should I wear?
    • You will be representing the County on election day and should dress appropriately. Wear "business casual" clothing (clean, unripped jeans are acceptable). Wear comfortable shoes!
    • You don't know what the temperature inside the voting room will be and it can change during the day, so wear layers! Remember that you also may be outside the building monitoring the drop-off box.
  5. Are there any restrictions on what I can wear? Are we allowed to wear face masks with words on them? What about "I'm vaccinated" buttons?
    • Clothing should not be politically-oriented or offensive in nature, or of a nature that could be construed as indicating a political leaning.
    • This also applies to face masks – a face mask that says "vote" would be acceptable, but a face mask that indicates support for a particular candidate would not be acceptable.
    • This also applies to buttons – you may wear a button that says "I got my COVID-19 vaccine" is acceptable, but a button that indicates support for a particular candidate would not be acceptable.
  6. Are voters permitted to bring signs or wear clothing that clearly supports a candidate in the polling place?
    • Voters can wear clothing that supports a political candidate or issue. However, a voter cannot bring in signage, do any campaigning, or hand out literature inside the voting room or within 40 feet of the polling place entrance.
  7. How do I know someone is an official Poll Watcher? What can they do?
    • Official Poll Watchers are authorized representatives of a party or, in the case of a primary, a candidate on the ballot. They must present proper written documentation to the Chief, who will issue them Poll Watcher Badges to wear in the precinct.
    • Poll Watchers are allowed anywhere inside a polling place so long as they don't impede voters or touch voting equipment.
    • Poll Watchers may check-in as early as 5:00 a.m. and observe opening procedures, but of course they cannot touch voting equipment.
    • Poll Watchers may stay and observe closing procedures but they cannot report results early nor leave the room until all work is complete.
  8. Do all contests need to be voted for a ballot to be counted?
    • A voter may choose to vote for fewer candidates or contests than they are allowed. This is known as an under-voted ballot. The DS200 will accept the ballot without issue.
    • If a voter casts an over-voted ballot (the voter filled in too many ovals in one or more contests), the DS200 will give them the option to cast the ballot as is, or return the ballot to the voter, which they can SPOIL and exchange for a new ballot. (Over-voted contests will not be counted while other properly-voted contests will be counted.)
  9. Can a voter who votes provisionally vote normally later in the day?
    • Once someone has voted provisionally, they may not vote routinely later that day. A provisional vote counts as your one vote for the day.
    • For example: If a no-ID provisional voter later returns with a copy of the ID, send them to the Chief! The Chief will add that information to their provisional envelope, but they will not be permitted to vote again.
  10. Will ballots and other election materials be in other languages?
    • Yes. In this election, there will be one paper ballot with 4 languages printed on it (English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean). The ExpressVote ballot marking device also uses these 4 languages.

Chief Questions

  1. How many DS200 and ExpressVote machines should we set up?
    • As indicated in the Chiefs Notebook, you must set up at least one DS200 scanner, one ExpressVote, and three to six Poll Pads.
    • We strongly encourage you to set up both DS200 scanners. This way, if one machine is inaccessible for any reason, your other scanner is already operational and can be immediately used by voters.
  2. When do we remove the USB flash drives from the DS200 scanners?
    • Immediately after polls close, begin shutting down the DS200 scanners. Only after you have printed tapes and shut down the DS200, should you remove the USB flash drives.
  3. Do we remove USB flash drives from DS200 and ExpressVote machines if they were not used for voting?
    • Yes. You must remove USB flash drives from all voting equipment, even if it was not opened or used by voters. You should remove 2 USB flash drives from each DS200 (seal inside the Purple Pouch). You should remove 1 USB flash drive from each ExpressVote (seal inside Orange #7 Pouch).
    • Do not power up the unused DS200 before removing the USB flash drives.
  4. Do two officers always have to assist a curbside voter?
    • On election day, the best practice is to have 2 officers go outside for curbside voting.
    • You can have another officer assume double duty while two officers are outside assisting curbside voters. For example, one officer could both issue ballots and direct voters to open voting booths. Or you could temporarily have a check-in officer issue ballots.
    • If absolutely necessary at particular times during the voting day, you may send only one officer.
  5. What is the difference between the ID Confirmation Statement and the Affirmation of Eligibility?
    • An ID Confirmation Statement is for voters who do not have acceptable ID.
    • An Affirmation of Eligibility is for voters who are marked as Inactive on the Poll Pad.
    • In both situations, once the form is completed, a voter may be checked in on the Poll Pad to vote normally.