If Spring is marked by the sprouting of cherry blossom and daffodils around our region, then Election Season is marked by the sprouting of wire frames and political signs in yards all over Falls Church, from the City School Board and Council, to the House of Delegates, to statewide races for Governor, Lt Governor, and Attorney General.
Right now, we are probably at peak bloom.
I call it election season, rather than campaign season, very intentionally. In the past in Virginia, you were expected to cast your vote with everyone else at your assigned polling place on Election Day. This year, and in years to come, you have far more options for casting your ballots. The process lasts weeks, and it started back on September 17th.
You can vote in person, you can vote by mail, you can vote at home and drop your ballot off in a drop box, you can make sure your college student votes in their dorm. Your vote will count, even if it arrives late - as late as the Friday after election day. What I am saying is, it’s never been easier to vote in Virginia. That’s intentional as well.
About 15% of you have already voted which is great! For the rest of you, make a plan to vote!
To vote early in-person at City Hall (300 Park Avenue), drop by Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm through October 29th. There are extended hours on Wednesday, October 27th from 8am to 7pm plus Saturday hours on October 23rd and October 30th from 9am to 5pm. Sunday, October 24th from 12pm to 3pm is also an option.
If you request an absentee ballot, you can return it via mail or put it in an official drop box. On Election Day, polls will be open 6am to 7pm. Check your registration status or request an absentee ballot by visiting the Virginia Department of Elections webpage.
All these options exist because of changes we made in Virginia over the last two years to make voting easier, including the ability to request an absentee ballot or vote early in-person for any reason. Curbside voting is available at every early voting location for people 65 and older or for those who have a physical disability. Just remember that the deadline to apply for a ballot to be mailed to you is this Friday, October 22nd and the last day for in-person early voting is Saturday, October 30th.
The November 2nd election is an opportunity to ensure that we continue to make these impactful changes and further solidify all the progressive work we've been doing. We've passed a Virginia Voting Rights Act, enacted common sense gun violence prevention initiatives, raised the minimum wage, abolished the death penalty, decriminalized marijuana, invested in public education, and the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, all this progress is at risk this election.
Virginia recently had a risk limiting audit that found our 2020 election was nearly flawless. Voting machines have a rigorous testing and maintenance protocol, yet Republicans continue to say or suggest that our election systems can’t be trusted. The top of the ticket continues to parrot the Big Lie about the presidential election being stolen. If elected we know they’ll roll back voter access enhancements in the name of “integrity” but we all know it’s really about voter suppression.
If you are the parent of a 7th, 8th, or 9th grader, I wanted to share an opportunity to give them a unique insight into Virginia’s government and lawmaking process. I’m happy to report that the House Page Program will be back up for the 2022 legislative session!
This program is a wonderful opportunity for bright young minds to learn more about our legislative process and develop important skills. Pages must be 13 or 14 years old as of January 12, 2022 (the first day of legislative session) and they are paid for their work plus they will receive per diem expense payments.
Those who wish to apply to the program must submit their applications no later than November 1st at 5pm. Applications must include an endorsement letter from their Delegate and authorization from the applicant’s school principal, teachers, and guidance counselor as well as an essay about why they want to serve as a page.