October 6, 2022

Grading the absentee-in-person experience in Virginia

[Each year, I write a “my day as a pollworker” report. This year, I’m not a pollworker, or election officer in Virginia parlance, for a variety of reasons, so I decided to write about my voting experience.]

I just got back from “in-person absentee voting”. This is similar to but not the same as early voting – in Virginia, it’s still absentee voting, but you do it by going to a central polling place (there are almost a dozen in Fairfax, which is a very geographically large and populous county). And you have to have one of a dozen reasons (e.g., you’ll be out of the county on business or pleasure, you’re disabled, pregnant, incarcerated awaiting trial, …) – you can’t just do it because it’s more convenient. See Code of Virginia 24.2-700 for all of the acceptable reasons.

My goal, besides the actual act of voting, was twofold. First, Virginia has new voter ID laws, and I wanted to see whether pollworkers had been trained to know what the new laws are. And second, Fairfax County by policy is supposed to offer voters the choice of “paper or plastic” – optical scan or DRE, and I wanted to see how that happened. (I know how it has happened in the past in my precinct, because I was responsible for ensuring that we followed the rules, but wanted to see how it was done in this environment.)
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