Election Integrity Working Group | Fairfax GOP
This is Part One of a three-part series on Election Integrity activities in the 2023 General Election. Part One is about Election Officers and Poll Watchers. Part Two will describe 2023 activities in cleaning the voter rolls, chain of custody documentation, and ongoing issues. Part Three will describe election-related legislation proposed for the 2024 Legislative session.
For the Fairfax GOP Election Integrity Working Group, the 2023 election was an opportunity to expand recruitment for Election Officers, and to build and test new automated systems for Poll Watchers. Here are some examples of what worked in 2023, and what still needs to be improved for 2024:
ELECTION OFFICERS IN 2023
New methods for recruiting Election Officers: The Election Integrity team suggested that the Fairfax Office of Elections try using a public service announcement (PSA) to recruit more election officers. The Fairfax Elections Office worked with WMAL to broadcast a PSA for a month starting on September 21st.
Better parity in election officers in Early Voting: Registrars are supposed to aim for an equal number – parity – of Democrats and Republican Election Officers for both Early Voting and Election Day. In early voting in 2023, the three satellite polling centers that were open for 45 days had 48% Democrat, 37% Republican and 15% non-affiliated Election Officers – not parity, but better than past years (and the chiefs were all Republican). However, one week before the thirteen additional early voting satellite polling places opened for the final ten days of early voting, the Election Integrity team asked about parity for those satellites and discovered a serious imbalance – 60% of the election officers were Democrat, 28% were Republican and 12% were non-affiliated. The Office of Elections immediately reached out to Republican Election Officers and in less than a week added 46 Republicans. The final parity numbers were a major improvement for the thirteen satellites: 44% Democrat, 47% Republican and 9% non-affiliated.
Urgent need for more Election Officers on Election Day: On Election Day, all 265 precincts had Republican Chiefs and Democrat Assistant Chiefs, which is the traditional custom in Fairfax when the Governor is a Republican. However, only 30% of all Election officers were Republican. Of the approximate 2,450 Election Officers who served on Election Day, 1,225 were Democrat, 750 were Republican, 450 were non-affiliated, with the remainder as substitutes. (All numbers are approximate, as final cancellation and substitution data hasn’t been received yet). Approximately half of the Republican qualified election officers actually signed up and served. An additional 30% more Election Officers on Election Day will help achieve parity.
For more information on working as an Election Officer, go here: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/officers/new-officers
POLL WATCHERS IN 2023
In 2023, 182 Poll Watchers trained and 112 served in Early Voting, the Central Absentee Precinct and on Election Day, for a total of over 1300 volunteer hours. With a focus in 2023 on Greeters to ensure voters were aware of candidate party affiliation, our 1900+ shifts were 20% filled, with a 40% fill rate during Early Voting.
The Poll Watcher operation offered 28 training sessions on zoom and in-person in 2023, used multiple online tools for scheduling training sessions and poll watching shifts, sent recruiting email and authorized representative forms, and kept track of it all on a daily basis. Several processes were automated in 2023, in preparation for a bigger operation in 2024:
Improved Poll Watcher reporting methods (print and online): For both Early Voting (September 22nd through November 4th) and for the November 7th, Election Day, the Poll Watchers team created both print and online reports that matched the documentation used by the Fairfax County Office of Elections election officers at the polling places.
Improved data reports for opening shift Poll Watchers: Each Poll Watcher with a morning shift could view the reported numbers from the prior day’s closing shift (DS 200 Public and Protected counts, Zip Tie serial numbers, etc.). This was a major improvement over the individual emailing process used in 2022 and 2021.
Automated training: The team created a Poll Watcher on-demand training system including eight pre-recorded video lessons for Early Voting and Election Day Poll Watchers, with quizzes and PowerPoint slides for each lesson. In 2024, the Poll Watcher team will expanding the online training program to include the Central Absentee Precinct (CAP) and post-election Canvass Observation.
Urgent need to expand the pool of volunteers: At every election, Fairfax GOP District Chairs and Team Leads recruit volunteers from a small group of volunteers – about 10% of the estimated potential 250,000 Republican voters in Fairfax County. In 2024, the Fairfax GOP leadership team is developing a plan to reach the other 90% for Get Out the Vote volunteers, Election Officers, Poll Watchers and Greeters.
The Election Integrity Working Group is a volunteer-run project of the Fairfax GOP.