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Absentee Voting Down in Fairfax County

State Board of Elections receives 14,000 fewer absentee ballots this year than in 2008.

While people across the country may be turning out in large numbers to vote early, absentee voting in Fairfax County is down slightly from the 2008 presidential election.

Absentee voting in Fairfax County is down about 2.7 percent from 2008, according to numbers released by the Virginia Public Access Project on Monday, Nov. 5.

In 2008, 83,523 county residents cast absentee ballots, compared to 81,273 in 2012.

But while absentee voting in Fairfax County is still down slightly, early voting in Virginia is up overall from rates in 2008.

VPAP reports that as of Nov. 5, 2012, absentee voting is up about 2 percent in the Commonwealth. Of Virginia's 5.4 million registered voters, 427,987 have cast absentee ballots.

As of Monday, there are 666,612 active voters in Fairfax County, of 738,107 total registered county voters --  about 13.7 percent of Virginia’s 4.8 million active voters.

Fairfax County residents cast 100,691 total absentee ballots in 2008, according to the Cook Report Absentee Ballot Tracker, which means that as of Oct. 30, absentee voting was down more than 14,000 ballots in Fairfax County from 2008.

The Cook Report also shows early voting is down more in localities that went Democratic in the 2004 and 2008 elections.

Areas in Virginia that voted for Obama in 2008 were saw a decrease of about 14 percent in absentee voting, while areas that voted for McCain saw a much smaller decrease of only 1 percent.

Hurricane Sandy forced polling locations to close up and down the East Coast last weekend, but it’s unclear whether the storm will have negative impacts on absentee turnout.

Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University who studies early voting, didn’t think Sandy’s effects would be felt here in the long run.

“[Polling places] have since reopened and there will be extended hours this weekend and that’s also when we expect the highest volume of early voting, so it balances,” he told Patch on Friday. “I would not think that there’s going to be much of an effect on early voting due to the hurricane.”

McDonald also pointed out early voting isn’t as weighty in Virginia as it is in other states because residents of the Commonwealth are required to have an excuse to vote absentee.

“It’s all going to come down to Election Day in Virginia,” he said. “They’re not as valuable as some other states, where you have a much higher volume of early voting.”

Check back with Patch throughout the day Tuesday for coverage from the polls and results from your area.

John Farrell November 10, 2012 at 12:03 PM
The operation of the mailed-in absentee voting process in Fairfax this year was an unholy mess. I have dozens of reports of folks who applied for their ballot in late September and early October who didn't get their ballot before election day.

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