FAQs (Nov 2021)

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


COVID-19 Questions

  1. What are the requirements for face masks inside the polling place?
    • Election officers must wear a face mask on election day.
    • Voters are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask on election day.
  2. How should we handle unmasked voters?
    • First, ask an unmasked voter to wear a face covering. They may retrieve their own or you may offer them one from the supplies given to each precinct.
    • If the voter declines, ask them to vote curbside or outside the polling place.
    • If the voter declines this as well, allow them to vote inside the voting room.

Absentee ballot drop box

  1. What should I do if a voter brings their absentee ballot to the precinct?
    • DROP BOX: The voter may deposit their completed absentee ballot envelope in the drop box at each polling place.
    • 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.
  2. Do we check IDs of people dropping off absentee ballots in drop boxes?
    • Per guidance from the Virginia Department of Elections, voters are not required to provide identification or identify themselves when they place a voted absentee ballot envelope in the drop box.
  3. Can someone deposit a ballot for a spouse, family member, or friend?
    • Per guidance from the Virginia Department of Elections, voters are permitted to place more than one voted absentee ballot in the drop box.
  4. Can a voter use any drop box?
    • Any Fairfax County voter can use a drop box at any polling place in the County.
  5. Do co-located precincts each need to set out a drop box?
    • Each polling place will be given one drop box. Polling places that host 2 or 3 precincts will have one shared drop box.

Collector Officers

  1. I am assigned as a Collector Officer. 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 box fills up during the day, you should remove, count, and secure the absentee ballots.
  2. What are the Collector Officers’ duties after the polls close?
    • Immediately after polls close at 7:00 PM, these officers will remove and count all absentee ballots from the drop box, then secure them in a TripLok security bag with a chain of custody form. They should also disassemble the drop box. These officers may carry out these duties inside the voting room.
    • These officers will also be given a purple pouch containing 4 USB flash drives from the two DS200 scanners.
    • These officers will drive the purple pouch (containing USB flash drives from the DS200 scanners) and the TripLok security bag (containing absentee ballot envelopes) to the Fairfax County Government Center, then go home (or back to the polling place, if one officer needs to pick up their car). More detailed instructions will be provided before election day.
    • NEW: Per requirements from the Virginia Department of Elections, the two Collector Officers must travel in the same car from the polling place to the Fairfax County Government Center.
  3. How will Collector Officers sign the Statement of Results (SOR) and other closing documents?
    • These officers will not sign any closing documents that other officers sign.
    • The only form Collector Officers should sign after 7:00 PM is the chain of custody form for recording how many absentee ballot envelopes they are transporting.
    • TIP: Before 7:00 PM, Collector Officers should double-check that they signed the Oath form and Compensation Sheet.

Poll Pad electronic poll books

  1. How do the Poll Pads now communicate?
    • The Poll Pads now sync with a secured central election database so the elections office can monitor activity remotely. This is the same way they already operate for 44 days of early voting; the only change is we have configured them to work in the same way on the 45th day.
    • The Poll Pads have gone through rigorous testing and certification to be used in this way, including at the federal level (through the Elections Assistance Commission and its affiliated testing labs) and at the state level (through the Virginia Department of Elections and its certification process).
    • Many other states and jurisdictions already use the Poll Pads in this way without issue.

ExpressVote ballot marking device

  1. Should we ask each voter if they want to use the ExpressVote?
    • At the ballot table, you should offer each voter a regular printed ballot unless they ask for an ExpressVote ballot.
    • Any voter may choose to use the ExpressVote. Do not hide it in a corner! Given the more prominent placement, you may have more voters than usual requesting to use the ExpressVote.
    • Each precinct will be given about 100 ExpressVote cards.

DS200 ballot scanner

  1. How many DS200 ballot scanners should we set up?
    • You must set up all voting equipment, including both DS200s issued to each precinct. This way, if one scanner is unusable 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 the second DS200 scanner, even if no ballots were cast on it?
    • Yes. You must remove USB flash drives from all DS200 scanners, even if it was not used by voters. Seal the USB flash drives in a purple pouch.

General questions

  1. Where can I vote early in-person?
    • There are 16 early voting locations around the county! The last day to vote early is the Saturday before the election.
    • Visit our website for exact locations, dates, and hours.
  2. What are the most important things I need to know when checking in voters?
    • Always repeat each voter’s name audibly (not the address). Do this every time!
    • Remember that you cannot ask for a driver’s license if a voter provides a different form of valid ID.
    • Use the Check-In Table function description sheet to make sure you are completing all necessary steps for each voter!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 box.
  6. 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 – 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.
  7. 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.
  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. 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 (provisional voters, Authorized Representatives, forms, etc.)

  1. 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 provisional voter later returns with more information, send them to the Chief! The Chief will add that information to their provisional envelope, but they will not be permitted to vote again.
  2. How do I know someone is an official Authorized Representative (“poll watcher”)? What can they do?
    • Authorized Representatives are there on behalf 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 Authorized Representative badges to wear in the polling place.
    • Authorized Representatives are allowed anywhere inside a polling place so long as they don’t impede voters or touch voting equipment.
    • Authorized Representatives may check-in as early as 5:00 a.m. and observe opening procedures, but of course they cannot touch voting equipment.
    • Authorized Representatives may stay and observe closing procedures but they cannot report results early nor leave the room until the voting results have been called into the office.
  3. 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.
  4. How many election officers have to assist a curbside voter?
    • On election day, the best practice is to have 2 officers go outside for curbside voting. If you cannot spare a second officer at certain times, you may send only one officer.
    • 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.
    • A High School Page may accompany the election officer(s) assisting curbside voters.
  5. When will the Chiefs Notebook be available?
    • We will send a PDF of the Chiefs Notebook to all Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs about 2 weeks before election day.
    • We will also post a PDF of the Chiefs Notebook on the homepage of this training website.
    • Chiefs will be able to pick up a physical copy of the Chiefs Notebook during your supply pickup timeslot the week before the election.