Absentee Voting Begins Today For November Election

City of Falls Church voters will find these new digital scanner voting machines voters will see at the polls this November. (Photo: City of Falls Church)

Absentee voting for the Nov. 7, 2017 General Election started Friday, Sept. 22, that included the unveiling of new hack-proof “digital scanner” voting machines.

In Falls Church, the absentee voting can be done at the Registrar’s office at City Hall. This election will include candidacies for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, contestants for four seats each on the Falls Church City Council and School Board, and a referendum concerning a $120 million bond for a new high school in Falls Church. It includes the race for state delegate, with Marcus Simon facing only third party opposition, and for the City’s three “constitutional officers,” treasurer, sheriff and commissioner of the revenue, all uncontested this year.

Falls Church Registrar David Bjerke showed off the new machines, one where the ballot is cast electronically and the other for those with blindness or other disabilities can use a pencil.

In either case, there is a paper ballot that is produced that is automatically dropped into a sealed box when a vote is cast.

Bjerke said the new machines were obtained in short order when the state decertified F.C.’s older models, direct recording electronic, or DRE, machines that the City has used since 2004. earlier this month.

The action came following a national computer conference in Las Vegas in July when it was determined that many other machine models could readily be hacked. He said that about 22 jurisdictions in Virginia have replaced vulnerable machines under order from the Virginia State Board of Elections, but he has no idea what’s being done in other states.

For Falls Church, requests for absentee ballots by mail must be submitted to the Office of Voter Registration and Elections in City Hall by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31, though the Office recommends submitting by Oct. 24 to ensure timely receipt. Applications must be received by this deadline in order to receive a ballot in the mail.

City of Falls Church voters also have until Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, to vote absentee in-person at City Hall, 300 Park Avenue, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on two Saturdays: Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, both from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Virginia Department of Elections deadline to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 16. Anyone who is not already registered to vote (including 17-year-old citizens who will turn 18 by Nov. 8, 2017) must do so by Oct. 16 to be able to vote in the Nov. 7 election.