It might be a coincidence. Hans von Spakovsky, the GOP-appointed vice chairman of the Fairfax Electoral Board, said the board approved “every single individual” who filled out the necessary paperwork.
But, sad to say, it’s also possible the GOP appointees laid the groundwork for such delays to occur. They might have hoped the long lines would discourage voting in the county that is the Democrats’ most important electoral bastion, by far, in a major swing state.
It didn’t make any difference, of course. President Obama carried Virginia and the electoral college by sufficiently wide margins that hardly anyone was bothering afterward about whether the elections procedures were pure.
We might not be so lucky next time. That’s why Fairfax needs to do a thorough review of why so many people had to wait hours to vote, and figure out how to prevent such problems from recurring.
Sharon Bulova (D), chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, has proposed a bipartisan commission to do such an investigation. That study should include an aggressive look at whether the GOP’s political interest in a low Fairfax turnout contributed to the Election Day problems.
Fairfax Electoral Board Chairman Seth T. Stark wants an inquiry, as well. He is a Democrat and holds the board’s top office but is politically outnumbered by the two Republican appointees on the board. The GOP controls the board this year because the governor is a Republican.
“I think the board as a whole needs to investigate the process by which elections officials are approved and dispatched to the polls in order to ensure fair and equitable elections in Fairfax County,” Stark said.
The news in Virginia wasn’t all bad for the cause of fair elections. In particular, few problems were reported with the state’s new, Republican-backed voter identification law. I and others had been concerned the law might be manipulated to disenfranchise minorities and other Democratic constituencies. I’m happy to report those fears were not borne out.
Also, in Fairfax, there’s no question that two nonpartisan factors — high turnout and long ballots — helped create the lengthy waits at the polls.
But Quinn, who is a Republican and has the title of Fairfax general registrar, also cited the shortage of elections officials as a major cause of the delays. She told The Washington Post that she had 250 fewer poll workers than in 2008, and this year, nearly 28,000 more people showed up to vote. Her comments drew retorts from some Democrats that Quinn’s office and the Electoral Board had dragged their feet for months about approving elections officials nominated by the Democrats.