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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 12/21/2009

An election fiasco in the making

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Katy Cannady
Alexandria

A recent article on moving Northern Virginia municipal elections from the spring to November said that Alexandria was “in the process” of moving its council and school board elections to November [“Will Falls Church voters move to a fall election?,” Metro, Dec. 14]. This process appears to be complete.

The previous city council, at its last public hearing before leaving office in June, voted to hold the next city council election in November 2012 rather than May 2012. The newly elected council was expected to ask the General Assembly for further changes, such as having the vote fall in November 2011 instead. This would need to be approved by the session that convenes in January 2010. The new council voted last month not to do that.

This is shocking. In the 2008 presidential election, Alexandria had a voter turnout of 72 percent. Our voter registrar estimates that if he had to conduct the 2012 election with the same resources as he had in 2008, the lines of waiting voters would be four to six hours long. The head of the Alexandria electoral board gave the council an estimated cost of $200,000 for additional voting machines, polling places and election workers to conduct a combined presidential, city council and school board election. Even with those additional resources, it is unclear whether we could get voters' waiting times down to no more than two hours, as at the last presidential election.

It would be nothing less than a tragedy if this poorly conceived electoral change causes many would-be presidential voters to walk away from the polls without voting. That may well happen.

The writer is president of the Alexandria League of Women Voters

By washingtonpost.com editors  | December 21, 2009; 12:45 PM ET
 
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