By Supervisor Pat Herrity
At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board voted 9-1 to ask Governor Northam to remove the witness signature requirement for absentee ballots in Fairfax County because our residents may not be able to get signatures due to COVID concerns. The General Assembly removed the witness signature requirement during the 2020 elections while we were under a State of Emergency. It was reinstated once the State of Emergency ended in the Commonwealth. Fairfax County is still under a local State of Emergency Declaration.
This should be concerning to all residents. Witness signatures are important as they provide another line of defense against voter fraud and have been required for many years. They are very common in most legal documents, such as general contracts; agreements; deeds; guarantees; mortgage documents.
They were deemed important enough by the general assembly that they were reestablished outside of the State of Emergency.
This request is problematic for a number of reasons. First is the timing – ballots have already been mailed with information requiring a witness signature – I am not sure why this request is coming now after ballots have been sent.
There was no documentation of a problem in Fairfax County – i.e., ballots received to date without a witness signature.
The timing is also odd in that since our summer recess we have returned most of our children back to school, our residents are returning to the workplace in increasing numbers, and our vaccination rates have increased. Despite all that our positivity rate has decreased from 6.75 to 3.17 percent.
Most importantly – I think removing this simple requirement is a blow to fairness and I voted against it. To do this in the middle of an election process in the name of COVID is nonsensical.
What I did do, was to get a follow-on motion passed that asked County staff to provide us with the number and percentage of absentee mail-in ballots that were submitted without a witness signature in 2020 and any that have been received this year without a witness signature. I also asked that the Board of Elections to share their process for correcting any ballots received without a witness signature. We want to make sure every valid voter gets his ballot counted.
I also suggested we do a public relations campaign to remind voters of the witness requirement.
Make a Plan to Vote Early Today!
No excuse absentee in person voting for the Virginia statewide and general assembly races is currently underway at three locations in Fairfax County. Additional locations will open on October 21. The Fairfax County Government Center will be open for early voting on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Mount Vernon and North County Governmental Centers, however, voting hours are from noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Any registered voter can cast their ballot without needing a reason or excuse.
For full details on locations and times, please visit:
Please join me in accepting Glenn Youngkin’s challenge and not only vote early, but get ten of your friends there as well!
Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) currently serves on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. This article was first distributed via email by Friends of Pat Herrity; visit PatHerrity.org to subscribe.