Fairfax Board Tackles Election Problems

Inaccuracies Reported With Voter ID Cards

Fairfax County's Electoral Board has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday in part to determine whether the registrar is properly processing new voter cards and absentee ballot requests and answering a deluge of calls in the days before the presidential election.

The meeting was hastily arranged after elections officials, the registrar's staff and at least one county supervisor reported errors in voter identification cards or complaints that residents had not received them.

Graduation Rate Steady With SOLs

Extra Attention to Struggling Students Credited

Virginia's high school graduation rate held steady this year, the first in which students were required to pass state standardized tests to get a diploma.

Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) announced that 72,115 students graduated from high school this year, 94.3 percent of the total number enrolled in the class. In the previous five years, the average was 94.5 percent.

Warner credited efforts to identify students struggling with the Standards of Learning exams and give them extra help.

When the SOL exams were introduced in 1998, critics of the program predicted that 2004 would be a disaster with thousands of students not graduating because of their test performance.

Democrats Sending Monitors to Polls

600 Lawyers Ready With Legal Advice

Top attorneys with Virginia's Democratic Party are training 600 volunteer lawyers who will fan across the state on Election Day to monitor the voting process and provide legal advice in case of irregularities.

Party officials said the effort, dubbed the 2004 Voter Protection Program, is fueled by the lingering fear of a Florida-style election debacle that could threaten the integrity of the process. The lawyers will stand outside polling places with other campaign workers and offer advice to voters who want it. They will also be on hand to advise party leaders if voting machines malfunction or there are other problems.

Loudoun Hospital Agrees to Merger

Officials Cite Need to Expand, Compete

The nonprofit Loudoun Healthcare Inc. will merge with the Inova Health System, a move that could allow the only hospital in the nation's fastest-growing county to greatly expand its services and remain competitive with a second, for-profit hospital being planned nearby.

Rod Huebbers, president and chief executive of Loudoun Healthcare, which runs the 92-year-old Loudoun Hospital Center, said the merger would bring better medical care to the county, where officials have said population growth is outstripping access to health care.

GMU Director Charged With Pornography

Police Say Man Taped Encounter With Teen

An associate director in George Mason University's affirmative action office was arrested and charged with videotaping a series of sexual encounters with a 16-year-old boy.

Ronald J. Sinacore, 55, of the 5400 block of Long Boat Court in Fairfax County, was charged with one count each of possessing child pornography and of producing child pornography, Fairfax County police said. He is being held without bond at the Fairfax jail.

Across the Region

Housing Inspections; Training Metro Police

* D.C. regulators plan to encourage all college students worried about the safety of their off-campus apartments to request inspections after a rowhouse fire caused by faulty wiring last Sunday that killed a Georgetown University student.

* Metro Transit Police have hired a New York state-based firm to instruct officers in a technique called "verbal judo" for peacefully defusing confrontations with passengers. The training is a response to several highly publicized cases in which transit police have handcuffed and arrested passengers after confrontations over food and cell phone use.

Student killed: T.C. Williams senior Laura Lynam, at right with friend Rachel Stirba, died in a crash on I-95 on the way to a regatta traveling with fellow rowers.