Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Be Prepared for the March 1 Primary Elections

By Bill Wanlund

Why should Iowa and New Hampshire have all the fun? It’s primary time in Virginia, too, and with the March 1 dual presidential primary elections approaching, it’s a good time to review some of the procedures and regulations pertaining to Falls Church voters.

Registration: Only registered Falls Church City voters are eligible to vote in one of the City polling places. If you’re not sure of your registration status, you can check online at elections.virginia.gov. Alternately, you can inquire with the Falls Church Office of Voter Registration and Elections: Call 703-248-5085 or visit during office hours, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, Room 101 (East Building), City Hall. While it’s too late to register for the March 1 primaries, you can still register for the November Presidential election.

Party Primaries: The March 1 presidential primaries are party elections. Only Republican or Democratic Party candidates’ names will appear on the ballot (state law specifies that only parties which received at least 10 percent of the vote in either of the previous two statewide elections may be represented on the ballot), so no third-party candidates’ names will be on this ballot.

Because Virginia voter rolls do not identify political party preferences, voters may only vote in either primary. Voters will be asked to select either a Republican or Democratic ballot when they check in at the polling place. No write-in votes will be accepted in these primaries, per state law.
Note that, while there had been discussion within the Republican Party about whether to require a voter Statement of Affiliation in order to participate in that party’s primary, no such statement will be required.

Voter Identification: State law now requires in-person voters to show one form of photo identification. Acceptable IDs include: A valid Virginia driver’s license; a valid U.S. passport; any other photo identification card issued by the U.S. government or a government agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia or one of its political subdivisions; a valid student ID card, with photo, issued by an educational institution located in the Commonwealth of Virginia; or a valid employee photo identification issued by the voter’s employer (for a complete list of acceptable forms of education, see http://elections.virginia.gov/registration/photo-ids-required-to-vote). The Office of Voter Registration in City Hall also can issue photo voter identification cards. Registered voters with proof of eligibility may come to the office during business hours to be photographed and obtain the card at no charge.

Absentee Voting: If you know you will not be able to vote at your polling place on Election Day, in-person absentee voting is available in the Registrar’s Office through Feb. 27. Hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Feb. 27, the Saturday preceding the election. The deadline for absentee voting is 5 p.m. Saturday Feb. 27, unless an emergency occurs that afternoon or later.

Suspended or Withdrawn Candidacies : Some candidates in both parties have suspended their campaigns. However, unless these candidates formally withdrew from the race by the ballot deadline, their names will appear on the ballot, and a vote for one of those candidates will be recorded in that candidate’s name.

Parking: Parking for Ward 1 (Thomas Jefferson Elementary School) is available on Oak, Seaton, Fellows, Parker, Timber and Jackson streets. Designated parking for voters with disabilities is available on Oak Street just below the walkway to the gym entrance. Note that the block of Oak Street in front of the school will be closed for school bus loading and unloading (8:10 – 8:40 a.m. and 3:10 – 3:40 p.m.). For Ward 3 (Falls Church Community Center), parking is available on both sides of Little Falls Street, and several parking spaces in the Community Center lot will be reserved and marked for voters. Voters in Ward 2 (Oakwood Apartments) should remember to park in the rear lot of the building (entrance is next to the convenience store).

Remember, the Office of Voter Registration and Elections in City Hall, 703-248-5085, can answer questions you might have. You can also check the Registrar’s website, www.fallschurchva.gov/vote, for additional information.


Bill Wanlund is vice chair of the City of Falls Church Electoral Board.