A Falls Church City Council member confirmed to the News-Press tonight that the City of Falls Church officially submitted today a mandatory request for review by the U.S. Department of Justice the controversial vote taken by the F.C. City Council last November to revert City elections to be held in May instead of November. The DOJ has 60 days to review the action under terms of the U.S.Voting Rights Act of 1964.
In January 2010, the F.C. City Council voted to move the date of the City’s municipal elections from May to November with the explicit intent of increasing voter participation as a result. Last November, the City Council, with new members brought on in July and some old members removed, reversed that vote, returning to May as the time for local elections. While the DOJ signed off on the shift from May to November, it is not known whether it will similarly rubber stamp a move away from November back to May, when historically voter turnout levels in Falls Church are far below those in November.
If the DOJ rules against the City’s latest election move, then there will be an election for the Falls Church City Council and School Board this November. If the DOJ OK’s the new switch, then the first City election will be in May 2012. A heavy workload was given as the reason for why the City took until today to file its required paperwork with the DOJ. Citizens are encouraged to contact the DOJ with their opinions and insights on the matter now pending before it.