Message from the Chair
Many Virginia voters qualify to vote before Election Day (called in-person absentee voting). There is no need to apply in advance. Just show up at your Early Voting Location (see below), be ready to state the last four digits of your Social Security Number, and select the code for the reason that qualifies you to vote early.
Select the code which qualifies you to vote early.
Here are reasons with their codes which most voters use to qualify:
- Personal Business or Work on Election Day: On Election Day, you plan to be outside your county/city of residence for any period of time for
- Work or business(Code 1C), or for
- Any personal reason (Code 1D) such as an errand, appointment, meeting, date, class, lesson or vacation, etc.
- Even if you don’t leave your county/city of residence, but if your combined time working plus commuting between 6am and 7pm is at least 11 hours, then use can use Code 1E.
- College Student, Active Military or First Responder:
- You or your spouse attend a college or universityoutside your county/city of residence (Code 1A/1B),
- You are active duty militaryor merchant marine (Code 6A) or a spouse/dependent living with an active duty military or merchant marine person (Code 6B), or
- You are a First Responder(Code 1F)
- Disabled/ill, Caregiver or Pregnant:
- You are disabled, ill or have difficulty standing in line (Code 2A),
- You are the primary care-giver for a disabled or ill family member at home (Code 2B), or
- You are pregnant (Code 2C).
Voting early safeguards your vote. Nothing will prevent you from voting because you are in control: you vote when you are able, at a convenient time, when the weather is fine.
If instead you wait until the last possible day to vote, Election Day, your vote is placed at unnecessary risk. Anything can happen on this one particular day preventing you from getting to the polls in time to cast your ballot: illness, busy with work, traffic snarls, and for some, the biggest risk factor or all — the unpredictability of November 7th weather conditions.
Vote early. Early in-person voting begins Friday, September 22nd at the main government center.
Make a plan to vote early.
- Which voting center will you use
- What time of day will you go
- Who will you take with you to vote
FAIRFAX COUNTY residents can vote early at any of these voting locations regardless of the voter’s address in Fairfax County.
- Main Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Room 2/3.
- Sept 22 through Oct 13, Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm, Thursday until 7pm
- Oct 16 through Nov 3, Monday-Friday, 8am-7pm,
- Saturdays: Sept 30 to Nov 4, 9am-5pm.
OR any of these Satellite locations
Oct 16 through Nov 3, Monday – Friday, 3:30pm-7pm
Saturdays, Sept 30 to Nov 4, 9am-5pm
- Providence Community Center
3001 Vaden Dr, Fairfax – two blocks from Vienna Metro (map)
- Franconia Governmental Center
6121 Franconia Rd, Alexandria (map)
- McLean Governmental Center
1437 Balls Hill Rd, McLean (map)
- North County Governmental Center
1801 Cameron Glen Dr, Reston (map)
- West Springfield Governmental Center
6140 Rolling Rd, Springfield (map)
- Mason Governmental Center
6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale (map)
- Mount Vernon Governmental Center
2511 Parkers Ln, Alexandria (map)
- Sully Governmental Center
4900 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly (map)
- Lorton Library
9520 Richmond Hwy, Lorton (map)
Absentee Voting (by mail)
(online applications are automatically received by the Office of Elections)
Call the Fairfax County Office of Elections if you need further assistance: (703) 222-0776
If you haven’t voted absentee by mail before, please read the following instructions to determine if this is the best option for you:
This section explains how to apply for an Absentee (by mail) Ballot, which must be filled out precisely according to detailed instructions, signed by you and by a witness (as well as by any person providing voter assistance), mailed in the correct envelope with the proper postage and received by the registrar’s office no later than 7pm of Election Day.
Even small mistakes could invalidate your ballot. So we can’t overemphasize how important it is to carefully follow the detailed instructions.
An alternative for many voters is Early Voting in person (technically called “Absentee in-person voting”), where trained election personnel at Early Voting Locations can guide you through the process to make sure your vote counts. For details, click on Early Voting in person, featured in the “Contents” on this Voting section of the webpage, just above “Absentee Voting by Mail.”
If your intention is to Vote Early in-Person at an Early Voting Location, DO NOT SEND in a request for an Absentee Ballot Application, as it is sent in for mail-in ballots only. Once a mail-in ballot is requested, the voter must vote in this manner.
If you later change your mind and wish to vote in person, you can. Here’s how: bring your absentee ballot to the polling place where they will replace it with a regular ballot. Or, you may vote a provisional ballot, which will be counted once it’s confirmed that you did not vote your absentee ballot.
Absentee Voting by mail is especially useful for those who
- Plan to be out of town for an extended period of time,
- Are likely unable to vote in person (early or on Election Day),
- Are college students (or their spouses) who do not plan to return to their city/county of registration before Election Day, or
- Voters without a valid photo ID, but who have voted in other Virginia elections. (No photo ID is required when voting by mail except for first-time Virginia voters.)
You must complete the following four steps to Vote Absentee by Mail:
- Register to Vote or Update your Registration with your current address or Make any Corrections to your Registration
- Qualify to vote absentee by selecting from among 19 reasons, with codes,
- Complete the Absentee (by mail) Ballot,
- Carefully follow the 14-step process to cast your absentee ballot.
1. Register to Vote or Update your Registration with your current address or Make any Corrections to your Registration
Click on the blue “Register to Vote or Update your Voter Registration Online” button on this Voting Webpage. Registering or updating one’s registration must be completed 22 days before the election.
In addition to clicking on “I want to update my voter registration,” which will enable you to update your address or name on your voter registration, you will also be offered the option to click on, “I want to apply for absentee voting.” We recommend you do not click on this button, as it forces the voter to wade through 11 additional screens merely to request a mail-in ballot.
Instead, we suggest you read the two other options we offer in Step 3 further for easier, time-saving ways to request your Absentee (by mail) Ballot.
If your intention is to Vote Early in-person at an Early Voting Location, DO NOT SEND in a request for an Absentee Ballot Application, as this request is to be sent in for mail-in ballots only.
2. Qualify to Vote Absentee by Selecting Among 19 Reasons, with Codes
Here are the 19 reasons Virginians must use to qualify to vote before Election Day, together with any supporting information required.
Code 1A: Student attending college or university outside of locality of Virginia residence (name of college or university),
Code 1B: Spouse of student attending college or university outside locality of Virginia residence (name of college or university),
Code 1C: Business outside County/City of residence on Election Day (name of employer or business).
Code 1D: Personal business or vacation outside County/City of residence on Election Day (place of travel: Virginia county/city, or state or country),
Code 1E: I am working and commuting to/from home for 11 or more hours between 6am and 7pm on Election Day (if you leave your city/county of residence, use Code 1C), provide name of employer or business and Election Day hours of working and commuting (AM to PM)
Code 1F: I am a first responder (member of law enforcement, fire fighter, emergency technician, search and rescue),
Code 2A: My disability or illness,
Code 2B: I am primarily and personally responsible for the care of a disabled/ill family member confined at home (family relationship),
Code 2C: My pregnancy,
Code 3A: Confined, awaiting trial (name of institution),
Code 3B: Confined, convicted of a misdemeanor (name of institution),
Code 4A: An electoral board member, registrar, officer of election, or custodian of voting equipment,
Code 5A: I have a religious obligation,
Code 6A: Active Duty Merchant Marine or Armed Forces (branch of service),
Code 6B: Spouse or dependent living with a member of 6A (branch of service),
Code 6C: Temporarily residing outside the US, (enter your last date of residency at your Virginia voting residence only if you have given up that address permanently or have no intent to return),
Code 6D: Temporarily residing outside of US for employment, or spouse or dependent residing with employee (name of business or employer),
Code 7A: Requesting a ballot for presidential and vice-presidential electors only (Ballots for other offices/issues will not be sent),
Code 8A: Authorized representative of candidate or party serving inside the polling place.
3. Complete your Absentee (Mail-in) Ballot
Once you have identified the reason and code which qualify you to Vote Absentee, and you wish to vote by mail rather than in person, you must apply for an Absentee Ballot.
As indicated earlier, the www.vote.virginia.gov site provides an opportunity for you to click on “I want to apply for absentee voting,” but it requires you to click through 11 screens to do so, which is laborious and time consuming. We recommend you consider the two methods we offer below, as they are easier and will save you time.
- Click here to apply for your Absentee Ballot online; this one-page online application is received by the registrar’s office immediately.
- Print your Absentee Ballot Application by clicking here or pick up an Absentee Ballot Application from your library or local government office and follow the instructions to submit it.
On the application, you must:
- Specify for which election you request a mail-in ballot.
- Provide two addresses: your residence and the address where the mail-in ballot is to be delivered. NOTE: The ballot may not be sent to the voter in care of another person.
- Select your code for the reason that qualifies you to vote absentee, providing any supporting information requested.
- Send in your paper application to the address on the form by mail (allow 5 days if using U.S. Mail), via FAX or as an email attachment to your local Voter Registration Office.
- For Fairfax County, FAX to 703-324-3725 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Click here for contact information for other nearby cities/counties: elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation/PublicContactLookup.
The last day your mail-in ballot application can be received by your Office of Elections is 5pm on the Tuesday before the election (if provided in-person to your Registrar’s office, but arrive earlier so that the application can be completed by end of business), or by 11:59pm if submitted online.
Your Absentee Ballot Application can be sent to the registrar’s office up to one year before the date of the election for which you seek a mail-in ballot.
Ballots are sent to voters beginning 45 days before Election Day. If your application is received by the registrar after this date, you can expect to receive your ballot about 1-2 weeks later.
4. Cast your Absentee (Mail-in) Ballot
Follow instructions precisely so your Absentee Ballot will not be rejected as invalid. Inside the envelope, there are (English only) instructions, a separate A envelope containing the ballot, a B envelope used for inserting the completed ballot, and the return envelope which is pre-addressed to your Registrar’s office.
The 13 steps to completing your ballot follow:
- A witness (friend or family member) is required before opening the A envelope containing the ballot,
- Follow the 4 pages of instructions carefully.
- If requested with the application, there will be a separate Assistance Form to complete with a separate set of instructions. This Assistance Form must be completed and returned to the Registrar along with the completed ballot. (Assistance can be used with or without this extra form should the voter need it. But if requested initially, then the form must be completed and returned with the ballot.)
- Fill in the circles on the ballot completely with a blue or black pen. Do not use an “X”.
- Complete the outside of envelope B.
- Sign Envelope B, have your witness sign it, and any assistant sign it, and date it for when you have completed the ballot.
- Insert your completed ballot into envelope B.
- Seal the B envelope completely.
- Insert the B envelope into the return envelope.
- Add a copy of your valid voter photo ID, as it might be required if this is the first time you are voting in Virginia (see the information below Step 13 on the exceptions to first-time voters having to vote in person).
- Seal the outer envelope.
- Affix a first class stamp if using the US postal service, or send via some other delivery service with any fees prepaid
- The completed ballot must arrive before 7pm of Election Day. Or, bring the completed ballot in to the register’s office yourself (no one else can do this for you.)
Notice to voters using US mail service: The USPS delivery standards have changed. First Class delivery now takes 2-5 days. Please consider this as you vote absentee by mail.
Generally, first-time voters must vote in person with the following exceptions:
- A voter with disabilities
- College students
- Full-time caregivers of disabled/ill family member
- Active Duty Merchant or spouse/dependent, or those temporarily residing outside the US.
Absentee ballots count! You can rest assured that properly completed absentee ballots are valid and counted just like any other ballot; they are counted on Election Day.
You can check the status of your Absentee (by mail) Application online at www.vote.virginia.gov.
College students have a choice about where, when, and how they vote in Virginia elections. The decision usually hinges on which college or university will be attended, and how far away from “home” the student will be.
“WHERE IS MY ‘RESIDENCE’ ”?
Virginia’s guidelines state that a college student resides for voting purposes where they consider to be living for an indefinite period of time. And the student can change this intention whenever desired. It’s the student’s choice.
This choice of residence for voting purposes in Virginia has no bearing on taxes, tuition, scholarship, or driver’s license. Such legal terms as domicile or residence do not relate to the college student’s choice of “voting residence”.
But a college student can have only one residence for voting purposes for a given election. The residence of record as of October 16, 2017 (the last day to register before the upcoming election) determines the polling location.
Register or update your voter registration for any change to your voting residence at www.vote.virginia.gov.
Here are some options for establishing a residence for voting purposes:
- Students living on campus at George Mason, James Madison, Virginia Tech, or the University of Virginia can choose their campus mailing address as their voting residence. These universities have polling locations on campus, so transportation is not a concern. Polls are open 6am to 7pm.
- GMU students living on campus use their mailing address as their voting residence: 4450 Rivanna River Way, Fairfax Va, 22030.
- VTech students living on campus use their Residential Hall address: Hall, Room #, Street Address, Blacksburg, Va, 24061-XXXX (last 4 are specific to building) as their voting residence.
- JMU students living on campus (not Grace Street apartments) use their mailing address as their voting residence: 800 South Main St., PO Box XXX, Name of Residence Hall, Harrisonburg, Va, 22807
- UVA students living on campus use their mailing address as their voting residence. Depending on the student’s residential hall address, some UVA students vote on campus, others vote at a nearby elementary school,
- Students living off campus can choose where they live off campus as their voting residence.
- Any student can choose their “home” address as their voting residence even if they are temporarily living at or close to their college.
- Students attending college outside of Virginia can use their “home” address as their voting residence for voting in the Virginia elections. They can vote early in-person, or absentee-by-mail.
Some considerations to help you choose.
- The most important thing is to vote – so choose that voting residence which is most conducive to voting – be it for convenience, ease, or time required. Make it as easy as possible.
- Election Day is on a Tuesday, when school is in session, papers are due, and exams are scheduled.
- Consider the distance and transportation to your polling location. November weather conditions can make transportation difficult.
- On-campus polling locations are within walking distance, and you can vote with friends.
- Early voting (in-person absentee) is typically available over the Fall Break. Students can return “home” between September 22 and Election Day and vote early in-person—even on some Saturdays and evenings. See listing of dates, times, and locations on the Early Voting page.
- Consider who and what will be on your ballot. In 2017, statewide positions will be on all ballots in Virginia: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general. But the candidate for the Member of the Virginia House of Delegates depends on your voting residence.
Students might select that voting residence where their vote is needed most to effect the outcome of the election. (Keep in mind that political races are often won or lost by just a few votes. Mark Herring, our Attorney General, won by just 165 votes out of 2,200,000 votes cast.)
VOTING BEFORE ELECTION DAY
Follow these steps to vote early in-person.
Step #1 Choose your qualifying code. Virginia voting laws require a qualifying reason to vote early. Students can qualify for early voting with Code 1A/Spouse 1B if they attend school outside their city/county or residence. They then return “home” to vote or vote absentee by mail. See the complete listing of qualifying reasons on the Early Voting page on this website.
Step #2 Bring a friend or family member with you — so everyone might benefit from early voting.
Step #3 Determine when and where you will vote early in-person. Just show up at your early voting government center. No advance paperwork necessary. Many students return “home” to vote early on the Saturday of Fall Break.
See the Early Voting page on this website for the complete listing of these early voting locations and times.
Step #4 Bring your photo ID. Virginia College Student Photo ID or your Virginia driver’s license plus the last 4 digits of your social security number.
Step #5 Pick up a sample ballot from the poll workers outside when you vote.
Step #6: VOTE!!!
Follow these steps to vote absentee by mail:
Step #1: When you have moved to college, request your mail-in ballot
- The last day you can request an absentee-by-mail ballot online is 11:59 November 1, 2017. Go to www.democraticabsentee.com.
- Or download an application from this website on the Absentee-by-Mail page, and print an application. The completed paper application for an absentee-by-mail ballot must be received by the government office by 5pm of the November 1, 2017. (The US Post Office suggests allowing 5 days for first class mail delivery.)
Step #2: Ballots are sent to voters about one week after the absentee voting applications are received by the registrar, starting September 22. Check the status of absentee applications and ballots at www.vote.virginia.gov.
Step #3: Complete the ballot following the instructions. (See detailed instructions on the Absentee-by-Mail page.)
Step #4: Your completed ballot must be received by registrar’s office by 7pm November 7th. The US Post Office suggests allowing that 5 days for first class delivery. So send the completed ballot by November 2nd.
Congratulations. Using these guidelines, you will have successfully voted!
Whether you are elderly, disabled, or need any help at all the polls, there are voting options which might suit your needs. “We want every citizen to vote.”
- If you require assistance when voting, Reason Code 2A (your disability or illness or simply having difficulty standing in line) can qualify you to vote early.
- Vote with a companion of your choice: Anyone–a child, non-citizen, relative, or friend–can help you. The only exceptions: your employer or union official.
- Ask for help from poll-workers and Election Officers with how to use the voting machines or to answer other questions you might have.
- Polling locations in Virginia are compliant with ADA requirements. The Americans Disability Act requires that voting be made accessible to those who might have difficulty navigating the terrain or of being able to cast their ballot. (If you find the polling station to be inaccessible in any way, please report this problem to the Election Officer.)
- Privacy is a priority: Every voting facility has an accessible voting booth and machine to help ensure that the voter with any disability can cast a vote with privacy and independence.
Early Voting In-Person might be easier for you. You can pick a time and day which is convenient, parking spaces will be plentiful, and lines will be shorter. (For more information, go to our “Early Voting” section on this page.)
Curbside Voting–either during early voting times or on Election Day — allows a driver or passenger to vote without leaving the vehicle. Curbside voting is available for those with disabilities or those over the age of 65. Simply park is the space reserved and marked for this purpose. Then call the cell phone number written on the “Curbside Voting” sign to request assistance from an Election Officer or poll worker. Or a friend or companion can leave the vehicle and ask for assistance.
TIP: Take a cell phone with you so that you can call for assistance.
TIP: Bring a friend or relative to help you.
TIP: Request a sample ballot and any other literature you would like to see before voting.
Absentee Voting BY-MAIL—Voters can also vote by mail. To read more about this, scroll up to our “Absentee Voting by Mail” section on this page.
Vote with a companion who might offer you language assistance.
Fairfax County Office of Elections prints voting-related materials in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese. But voters can bring in their own language-assistance helper if desired.
All Virginia voters are required to show a photo ID. Acceptable photo IDs include any one of the following:
- Valid* Virginia Driver’s License or DMV Identification Card
- Valid Virginia DMV-issued Veteran’s ID card
- Valid United States Passport or Passport Card
- Other government-issued photo identification cards (must be issued by US Government, the Commonwealth of Virginia, or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth, such as county, city, or town).
- Valid Virginia student photo ID from a private or public high school, college or university (or other institution of higher learning) located in Virginia
- Employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the ordinary course of the employer’s business
- or a Virginia Voter Photo ID Card obtained through any local general registrar’s office
*Valid IDs must not be expired for more than 12 months at the time of use.
If you are a registered voter and don’t have any of the above ID’s, you can get a FREE photo ID at: 1) the Fairfax County Office of Elections (12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 323, Fairfax, VA 22035) during normal office hours, M-F 8 am – 4:30 pm, or 2) any satellite early voting locations when they are open for early (in-person absentee) voting. If you qualify to vote early, you can do both on the same trip. The process is easy, you just affirm your identity, and that you have no other photo ID — that’s it!
If you need a ride to get a voter photo ID, call our office at (703) 573-6811 during normal business hours and we will be happy to assist you.
If you are not able to get a valid ID or if you forget to bring your ID to the polls GO VOTE, and we can help you get an ID by the deadline so that your provisional ballot counts.
You may register to vote year-round except during the 21 days prior to a General or Primary election, 6 days prior to a Special election, or 6 days prior to a Special election called by the Governor (Code of Virginia 24.2-416).
- Verify that you are registered to vote, click here.
- Paper voter registration application, download
- Formulario en Español (Spanish voter registration application)
- Register to vote online
Office of Elections In Person Registration, or Mail Application To
- M-F 8:00 am – 4:30 pm at the:
- Fairfax County Office of Elections, Suite 323
Fairfax County Governmental Center
12000 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035
- Fairfax County Office of Elections, Suite 323
FIRST TIME VOTERS who have mailed in their registration must vote in person (early or on Election Day), or submit a copy of their valid photo ID with their mail-in absentee ballot application per Virginia law.
In 2016, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order restoring voting rights to all Virginians who had felony convictions and who had completed their sentences and supervised probation or parole. The Supreme Court of Virginia overturned this, but Governor McAuliffe is signing individual orders for each ex-offender.
Governor McAuliffe has restored the rights of the 13,000 voters whose rights were overturned by the State Supreme Court. Following that, he is signing the individual orders for the rest of the 206,000 ex-offenders.
If you’d like your restoration of rights to be expedited, click here to fill out the request form.
Click here to read the Restoration of Rights Policy (August 22nd, 2016)
We can help you with getting the right information to ensure that your rights are restored.
ELECTION YEAR GUIDELINES
- Virginia has a General Election every year on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November
- Federal offices are elected in even-numbered years
- State and Local offices are elected in odd-numbered years
- If primaries are called by the political parties, they are held on the second Tuesday in June
History: Why it is the day it is.
Election Day (the day that United States citizens cast their ballot to elect government officials) is the Tuesday on or after November 2nd.
- November was selected because the harvest work was done.
- Tuesday was selected because many people had to travel the day before to reach the polling place. Since most people did not travel on Sunday for religious reasons, they did not want it to be on a Monday.
- Election Day was not to fall on November 1st because it is All Saints Day.
- Election Day was not to fall on the first of the month because many shop keepers did their books for the preceding month on the first.
Lyndon Johnson called the right to vote, “the most powerful tool ever devised by man to break down the walls of injustice.” Voting is your fundamental right as an American, and the most basic means by which you have a voice in how your government works. Voting determines who will represent you, your family, and your neighbors in your community, your state, and your country. We need your help to get everyone registered to vote and to make sure every vote is counted in Fairfax County.
- Fairfax County Office of Elections
- The Electoral Board and The General Registrar
Fairfax County Governmental Center
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 323
Fairfax, VA 22035
open for business weekdays, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Electoral Board, 703.324.4735, FAX: 703.324.4706
General Registrar, 703.222.0776, FAX: 703.324.22057
- The Electoral Board and The General Registrar
- Virginia State Board of Elections
- Suite 101, 200 North 9th Street
Richmond, VA 23219-3485
804.864.8901 Toll Free: 800.552.9745 FAX: 804.371.0194
- Suite 101, 200 North 9th Street
Political signs must comply with local ordinance, Chapter 9.5 of Title 24.2, Code of Virginia, and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) regulations. No sign shall be erected earlier than 75 days prior to nomination, election or referendum, AND all signs shall be removed within fifteen days after the announced results of the nomination, election or referendum.