Local Commentary

A Penny For Your Thoughts

Absentee voting is underway in Virginia, as voters select statewide candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general, and all 100 seats in the House of Delegates. Fairfax County voters also will consider a school bond referendum. Election Day is Tuesday, November 2, just more than three weeks away but, based on inquiries to my office, many voters are not waiting until November, preferring to get the task done and off their “to do” lists.

If you have requested a ballot by mail, you may be surprised to find the ballot envelope with a warning, to the effect of “open only in the presence of a witness.” Although that longtime warning was waived in the 2020 general election, because of the pandemic emergency declared in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Northam lifted the state’s emergency declaration this summer. Thus, the previously used language was returned to the ballot envelopes. Fairfax County still is under a local emergency declaration, but the state’s status governs the ballots. Anyone can witness your signature on your absentee ballot; it does not need to be notarized. A family member, a neighbor, or a friend can witness your signature on the ballot envelope. They are not witnessing your selections – your ballot still is secret; they are witnessing that you are the person who signed the ballot envelope. It shouldn’t take more than a minute of their time, unless you invite them in for tea and a chat, too!

Early in-person absentee voting will be held at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, and the Thomas Jefferson Library, 7415 Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church, as well as 11 other county locations, October 21 through 30. Voting hours are 12 noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; Saturday (October 23 and 30) from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday, October 24, from 1 until 5 p.m. Covid-19 protocols will be observed at all locations, and masks must be worn in all Fairfax County facilities. Please bring a current and valid photo ID. Any registered voter in Fairfax County may vote at any county satellite facility; you do not have to be a resident of the specific magisterial district where the satellite is located. More information is available on-line at voting@fairfaxcounty.gov.

The George Mason Regional Library, 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale, will be the site of a fun HomeWise Demonstration Event this Saturday, October 16, from 2 until 4 p.m. Learn about quick and easy ways to reduce your monthly utility bills, and get your questions about home energy and water conservation answered on the spot by experts. The first 200 attendees will receive a free HomeWise improvement kit with LED lightbulbs, faucet aerators, weatherstripping and more. Experienced volunteers will show you how to install that free faucet aerator, too!

HomeWise is a program of the county’s Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC), created by the Board of Supervisors in 2019. The program educates, empowers, and enables residents to make changes that reduce energy use, water use, and associated costs in their homes. Bring the whole family to the library – the kids can find a favorite book, and parents can learn more about reducing utility costs.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.