The number of satellite locations for early voting would double to four this year under a proposal endorsed by the Arlington Electoral Board and headed to the County Board.
In addition to Madison and Walter Reed community centers, which had been used for early voting in recent presidential elections, the Electoral Board aims to add the Aurora Hills Community Center and either the Langston-Brown or new Lubber Run community centers.
“Ultimately, it’s the County Board’s decision,” county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.
Funding to staff the additional satellite-voting centers was included in the county government’s fiscal 2021 budget, so any County Board action is likely to be pro-forma in nature. But its members must act by Sept. 3, before they are scheduled to return from a two-month summer break, so a special board meeting is likely to be necessary.
The draft plan calls for satellite early voting from Oct. 17-31 weekdays from 2 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at each location. Electoral Board vice chairman Matt Weinstein suggested that county officials consider adding one Sunday, or swapping a Saturday for a Sunday, in making the final call.
The satellite locations would be in addition to the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center, which will accept in-person-absentee votes on weekdays and occasional Saturdays from Sept. 18 to Oct. 31.
The government center had been the lone location for in-person-absentee voting until 2008. Given the large absentee turnout that year, which caused hours-long lines to form as the election approached, county officials in 2012 agreed to fund satellite facilities for early voting.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic and an easing of limitations on casting absentee ballots in Virginia, Arlington voters may be more likely than ever to want to stay away from polling places on Nov. 3. In the July 7 County Board special election, fewer than half of all votes cast came from traditional precinct voting on Election Day. The rest came from mail-in ballots and in-person-absentee votes.
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