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EDITORIAL: Lawmakers, county election staff deserve kudos for early voting success

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Editorial Cartoon about voting

The press is generally expected to scrutinize government and hold it accountable for efficiently and effectively serving the public. But it’s equally important to give credit and even praise when it’s deserved, and that’s exactly what’s required now with regard to the Virginia General Assembly, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, the Office of Elections, the Electoral Board, County Registrar Michelle White and all those who had a hand in running a truly impressive early voting operation this year.

At the time of this writing, on the eve of Election Day, more than 162,000 Prince William County residents had already cast their ballots during an early voting period that began on Sept. 18. That’s 56% of Prince William voters and three times the number of early votes cast during the last presidential contest in 2016.

Such an feat does not happen by accident. Indeed, it was only a eight years ago – in the 2012 election – that Prince William County made national news for all that went wrong on Election Day. We had too few electronic voting machines and too few polling places, resulting in long lines that had hundreds of voters waiting for hours to cast their ballots.

Fortunately, a lot has changed since then. For starters, the county supervisors appointed a special commission in 2013 to examine what went wrong. As a result of its work, the county added 14 polling places and ditched the electronic voting machines for paper ballots and optical scanners, which are both faster and more secure. Still more polling places and precincts were added in subsequent years to keep up with population growth.

During the 2016 presidential election, the county’s Office of Elections made a big push to encourage as many people as possible to vote early to avoid a repeat of the 2012 debacle. That, too, was a big success, as Prince William led the state in early votes cast in 2016.

But the biggest changes came over the last two years, when the Democratic-led General Assembly overhauled to Virginia’s election laws to make voting easier. Most significantly, they allowed all registered voters to cast an early ballot without an excuse. 

Lawmakers voted this year to waive the witness requirement for mailed-in absentee ballots and to pay for return postage. When concerns about the Postal Service arose, lawmakers took the extra step of requiring each locality to provide ballot drop boxes for voters to use instead of the mail.

The work continued at the county level, where the board of supervisors boosted funding for this year’s election and doubled the county’s early voting sites from four to eight, three of which opened as soon as early voting began. The wisdom of that decision was immediately apparent when Fairfax County voters – who initially had only one early polling place – waited in hours-long lines to cast their ballots while Prince William County voters did not.

On Oct. 19, the county opened the other five polling places including one at the James J. McCoart building that was drive-thru only, which was an instant hit. It offered a socially distant way for voters to cast their ballots without having to step foot inside a polling place.

The Office of Elections, led by White, did a commendable job of staffing the early polling places with enough people to ensure an efficient process. Most had more than a dozen on hand at all times, numbers made possible in part because staff from other county departments volunteered to help out – even on Saturdays, we’re told.

Still other staffers worked behind the scenes to keep up with thousands of requests for mailed absentee ballots and to process those ballots when they returned.

And did we mention they performed all of this work in the middle of a global pandemic?

Many have called this the most consequential election of our lifetimes, and there’s much anxiety – rightly so – about the country’s political divide, which can often seem bleak.

But if there’s one bright spot in this challenging election year, it’s been the election process itself, which has been nothing but impressive. Voters, too, should be credited for caring enough about their country to get out and vote.

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(15) comments


I don't have an issue with voting. However, I do have an issue with obvious fraud.


Who knows how much fraud happens in va. The governor should do a recount.


Look morons - the problem with MAIL-IN (not absentee) voting as well as this ridiculous early voting is one of integrity and transparency. It is simply too easy to manipulate and/or falsify results if you have people in place that are inclined to do so. This risk is almost always with the left. Have you ever noticed we never find any "missing" Republican ballots? As important as Presidential elections are and the Dems "whatever it takes" mantra, voting should be in-person (mostly) over perhaps a two day Federal and State holiday with PHOTO id. If you are too lazy or stupid to come up with a photo id then you shouldn't be voting anyway. Voting should have integrity above all, making it easy isn't always the answer.

Mrs. Silence Dogood

Thank you weouchere. You can read English unlike other here. A few or 70 million Americans know what integrity means and think it is good to have in our voting and society.


I did think the early voting was great this election. It was easy and we had many options of locations to vote. I do wonder however, why is it taking so long for our votes to show up online? Why haven’t they all been submitted to the system? I know several local people that can’t verify their votes yet. That makes everyone uncomfortable considering the widespread possibility of fraud in this election. It would help with the concern people have that their vote actually counted.


@Mrs Silence Dogood, I’m at a loss as to your aversion to so called “mail in” votes. How do you think the majority of absentee ballots, including ballots from the military, reach the their hometowns. Why through the mail of course. Additionally, all mailed in ballots in Virginia are Absentee Ballots.

Due to a number of reasons my wife, daughter, son & mother in law, all mailed in their absentee ballots, while I voted on November 3rd at my assigned precinct. I take offense that you deem my relatives ballots somehow inferior to mine, or at worse fraudulent, just because they happened to not be cast in the gymnasium of our local school.

I will agree that the United States of America is rightfully termed a Republic, but we are also a both a representative democracy and a constitutional democracy. Please notice the small d in both these terms.

Lastly as to your aspersions to my patriotism. I will leave the final decision on that to my Almighty Creator and not some commenter on a newspaper website and leave with these words from the Holy Bible Matthew 7:1-3

Good Day Sir

Mrs. Silence Dogood

Ha, ha.

You Are special and so very smart. Did you fill out your families ballots for them? Since you are certain they all voted.

We don't know do we? Did I fill out my families ballots? We don't know, do we?

No one would ever do anything so dumb, illegal or nefarious, not in little PWC or America. That would never happen. One voter fraud or the ability there of is one too many. Make it better, not easier - BETTER, next time.


Insults and personal attacks are the last resort of insecure people with a crumbling position trying to appear confident while losing a debate.

Mrs. Silence Dogood

Bottom line is America is a divided nation, just as much as it was in 1858. Like our conversation here, I pray it is repairable.


Let's just hold off on the parade of Rose's until we are sure that PWC doesnt use the FRAUD based Dominion Softwdar ussd to change votes.

If PWC is one of the few areas in the US were Leftist fraud did not occur then let the parade begin.

But let's hold off for now okay ?

Mrs. Silence Dogood

Your Joking, Right?? I get it. This is a sarcasm piece.

OK now I get it.


Do you have a point to make or are you just made that Trump lost? The elections were very smooth in PWC, very few lines, staff dealing well with the pandemic and the democratic process proceeding as planned.

Mrs. Silence Dogood

"democratic process proceeding as planned" I just planned to vote.

I don't know what you "planned".

I thought this was the worst election in my lifetime. Mail in Voting is the worst idea ever perpetuated on the electorate and I hope we never see it again.


You’re kidding right. Anything that helps the electorate to exercise their civic duty to vote is a good thing for our great democracy. Only autocrats and dictators want to make it harder to vote and is un-American. Early and mail in voting have been a Godsend during this pandemic. Almost all of the military vote by mail. Do you find their votes fraudulent? Shame on you @Mrs Silence Dogood. Your comment name makes a mockery of the memory of a great Patriot. On this Veterans Day holiday May God bless our veterans. May God bless our troops. And may God bless America.

Mrs. Silence Dogood

You Sir give rise to tyranny. I said mail in Voting, not early voting. Our military may vote anyway they please. They have bought their vote with their sweat and blood. But you Sir hide behind a cloak of patriotism that you clearly do not love. How do I know? Because you refer to our country as a democracy and not the Republic it truly is. May America bless God ,so God can Bless America.

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