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Arlington Elections Chief Hoping for Smooth Sailing in Last Week Print



Arlington's top election official is expecting a busy, but hopefully calm, Election Day as voters go to the polls Nov. 8.

The electorate, particularly those who usually vote only in presidential elections – known in the local elections trade as "cicada voters" – will find some changes from 2012, county elections chief Linda Lindberg said. And voters can help themselves and those around them by being aware of what's being decided at the polls.

"There's a lot on the ballot this year" beyond the marquee presidential race, she said. Voters also will mark ballots for U.S. House of Representatives, County Board, School Board, county bond referendums and state constitutional amendments.

It's those last two that have election officials worried; Lindberg is pleading with the public to be aware of the referendums and amendments, so they don't have to read through the ballot questions while casting votes.

Being informed "does save a lot of time on Election Day," she said.

Arlington voters who have not voted absentee will turn up to the county's 52 precincts to find no electronic voting, which had been the norm for years before being phased out in 2015. Instead, they will mark ballots by hand, then have them scanned into machines – two in most precincts, one for the smallest precincts – for counting.

Polling places will have 12 "marking stations" available, but voters won't have to wait for one to become available. "If somebody wants to take a ballot and mark it on the wall . . . that's their choice," Lindberg said.

Virginia voters also will have to make sure they turn up to vote with photo-identification available, another change from past years. Those without state-approved IDs can cast absentee ballots, but then will have to provide identification to election officials in the days following the voting.

As to concerns about the potential of hacking into election systems, Lindberg seemed confident there will be no problems. "In Virginia, our data is very secure," she said. "There are many levels of firewalls; we constantly back up our material. I'm very comfortable there's not going to be any kind of hacking."