I Voted

A surprisingly uneventful experience.

Since there were long lines at the start of early voting here in Fairfax County, Virginia, I was expecting the same on Election Day—which has never been the case for me since moving to Virginia eighteen years ago. But the whole process took maybe ten minutes. I was pleasantly surprised.

While I’m poking a bit of fun at the “Make a Plan to Vote” campaign, I’m fortunate to live in one of the more affluent communities in one of the most affluent counties in the country. It literally took longer to find the middle school where I was assigned to vote (and, oddly, was not where I voted in the March primary) than it did to wait for three people ahead of me in line to get a ballot, mark my ballot for the three races (US President, US Senate, US House) being contested, and read through the multiple ballot initiatives.

Fairfax County seems to do voting well, though. While I’m in a very white, very well-off small town as of last August, my old district was majority-minority, mostly Black and Hispanic, and the lines were just as short and the process just as seamless.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Similar experience, then we both live places where society still works.

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  2. Moosebreath says:

    I voted 2 weeks ago at a dropbox. It took 10 days to get confirmation that it had been received, when my wife and daughter who voted at the same time I did got their confirmation by the end of the week.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My wife and I just done did our civic duty as well. Uneventful again.

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  4. J. Foobar says:

    I voted on Friday in Arlington and it took five minutes tops. I have read numerous other comments from Arlington locals over the last couple of weeks who had similarly quick early voting experiences. That the lines were so consistently so long in nearby Fairfax was bothering me quite a bit, frankly. Both Arlington and Fairfax are more or less equally affluent areas that happen to adjoin one another. The wait times in one should not be so consistently and substantially worse than another.

    Glad to hear that the actual election day waits were reasonable anyway.

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  5. Michael Cain says:

    I live in vote-by-mail Colorado and voted two weeks ago. We received our ballots by mail the day after they were handed over to the USPS. Returned them via drop box in the early afternoon a couple of days later. The day after that drop the county’s web site showed that they had been collected and the signatures verified (and if my county is following their standard practices, counted). Absolutely none of the bad things everyone’s been worrying happened.

    OTOH, we’ve been doing this for years. I have seen a number of reports from states that are trying to scale up an old absentee ballot system about problems.

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  6. Scott says:

    My family and I voted early in person and it was reasonable. Voting in Bexar County (San Antonio)got considerably easier two years ago when they modernized the voting process. We got new machines (with a paper trail). The machines are all linked so you can vote anywhere in the county (no more looking up your precinct and going to your assigned voting location). You can pull up your ballot at home, print and fill in your choices and take it with you to speed the process. All pretty painless.

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  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    I see James has voted Houndstooth Party.

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  8. keef says:

    It only took 10 minutes. I must admit pulling the lever for Biden was hard. But I just didn’t see any place to vote for the Communist Workers Party.

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  9. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: My homage to Bear Bryant. And the only truly comfortable mask I own—It’s lightweight, quite breathable, and has adjustable ear straps.

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I should add, “Uneventful again, as expected.” We are too remote and far too few, for anyone to bother with. My lone fear of somebody messing with my foreign born, foreign sounding wife’s right to vote has never before materialized, and it hasn’t again. That doesn’t mean the fear has disappeared, anymore than the “Speak English, Dammit!” idiots have.

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  11. keef says:

    @James Joyner:

    And no doubt totally useless against a virus. But the Bear Bryant thing is cool.

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  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: And acquired a beard. I’d say it looks good on you, James, but with the mask, who can tell.

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  13. James Joyner says:

    @keef: The science behind masks is clear and essentially undisputed. The misconception seems to be that it has to be able to stop a microscopic virus from getting through. It doesn’t. It needs to be able to stop spittle, which carries the virus.

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    I explained that to keef/Drew/Theon months ago. For a man who claims to have a college education he’s rather thick.

    Masks do two things. They vastly reduce the amount of virus carried by your exhalations, as well as severely reducing the distance a sneeze can travel. And they stop unconscious face-touching.

    But there’s no fixing stupid.

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  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    Our youngest, Julia, born in Tongling, China where she’d never have had a vote, sent us a text of her ‘I voted’ sticker. Our eldest, Clara, could not have been kept away from the polls with a tank.

    I give myself a B- as a father, but my two kids are compassionate, kind and aware of their duties as citizens. Got that much right at least. Money management not so much, but they’re both far ahead of where I was at their ages.

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  16. keef says:

    @James Joyner:

    No its not. And the studies are all over the map. Spittle, yes. Very little spread that way. Vapor, not so much.

    Its fascinating that the CDC sent out warnings that masks couldn’t stop (relatively speaking) bowling ball sized smoke particles from CA fires. But is effective against tiny viruses. That’s comedy gold.

    As far as the practicalities. I wear a mask, not because i think its effective, but because its mandated and prevents social discord. But its a fool’s errand.

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  17. charon says:

    Voting is really easy in AZ once you are, like most voters, on the PEVL (Permanent early voting list, in effect vote-by-mail).

    The ballots were supposedly mailed out on Oct. 7, I did not get mine until the 13th. Back in my mailbox for the mailman to pick up on the 14th. I checked the status online on the 22nd, mine had been signature verified and counted as of then.

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  18. charon says:

    @keef:

    But its a fool’s errand.

    There are lots of observed data that say otherwise.

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  19. Teve says:

    Voted October 23rd here in north Florida. Trumpers are going to have a bad week!

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  20. Teve says:

    Its fascinating that the CDC sent out warnings that masks couldn’t stop (relatively speaking) bowling ball sized smoke particles from CA fires. But is effective against tiny viruses. That’s comedy gold.

    today it was 11:56 am before I read the stupidest thing I will read all day.

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  21. Bill says:

    Today was an uneventful voting day for me. Dear Wife will cast her ballot on the way home from work this afternoon.

    In the past-

    2000 election day- Somebody kept calling to ask if I voted. I told them it was none of their business. On the third such call, the person threatened to have someone come to my h0use. Go right ahead, I will call the police.

    2002- Dear Wife was pregnant with our son. After voting, she had an OB appointment and we went together. At the appointment, it was determined DW would need a cerclage done. It was done the same day and DW was sent home one day later and told to practice complete bedrest.

    2010- Due to chemo, I threw up shortly after voting. In the parking lot.

    Election day can be eventful. I prefer it not to be.

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  22. charon says:

    @keef:

    I wear a mask, not because i think its effective, but because its mandated and prevents social discord.

    The ultimate driver of the propaganda you believe is Trump’s psychological issues. Trump is squeamish about masks because he thinks they are germy, similar to his squeamishness about blood and bodily fluids. He thinks admitting this would make him look like a sissy, so he pretends going maskless is about something else, freedom or being macho or whatever.

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  23. Jax says:

    @charon: I sometimes wonder if his aversion to masks is actually due to a much simpler reason…..his face makeup will rub off on it. It would be very visible around the edges, given the bright orange hue to it.

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  24. Sleeping Dog says:

    @gVOR08:

    very professorial, James will need to update his profile pic.

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  25. KM says:

    Took me and my mother about an hour and half for our early voting last week and my sister a little over an hour yesterday. The line moved quickly and efficiently; I guess it was just the sheer amount of people that made it take so long and the social distancing making it stretch outside and around the library. It wouldn’t have been so bad except it’s cold and misting so everyone outside got unpleasantly damp. Good motivation to keep the line moving, though…..

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  26. Kathy says:

    Among many in the Cult 45 cult, the aversion to masks is the same as the aversion to lockdown, and to social distancing, to contact tracing, and other preventive measures: None of them, by itself, will stop the pandemic. So they are all, taken together, completely useless.

    In fact, all of them taken together won’t stop the pandemic, but will greatly reduce the spread. It would make the difference between, say 12+ million cases and over 500,000 deaths, and under 5 million cases and 150,000 deaths, in some random big country.

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  27. Bill says:

    Question for everyone- Will you be staying up all night to follow the returns?

    Me- I will go to sleep like I normally do sometime between 9 and 10 eastern standard time because

    1- Dear wife gets up at 5.
    2- I don’t expect a winner till the wee hours of the morning or later.

    So I won’t be playing Strat-O-Matic computer baseball all night with MSNBC on my television.

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  28. @keef: “No its not.”

    An impressive retort.

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  29. Joe says:

    @charon:

    a fool’s errand.

    I believe that is the title of keef‘s daily to-do list.

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  30. Kathy says:

    @Bill:

    I plan to half-follow developments on CNN while I do my usual web surfing of this site, what’s left of Facebook, and aviation sites. I usually half pay attention to Simpsons reruns or some other show on TV.

    But only until bedtime (around 10-10:30 pm) or a bit past if something interesting is going on. I expect I’ll wake up tomorrow around 5:30-6:00 to better news.

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  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Bill:
    It’s easier in Cali. Pacific Time. We’ll start getting returns at 4 PM.

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  32. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    But there’s no fixing stupid.

    If we can get a dog fixed, I don’t see why we can’t get keef fixed.

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  33. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “An impressive retort.”

    No it’s not.

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  34. JohnMcC says:

    Also voted in person. Stood in line about 45min on a gorgeous Florida morning that the Chamber of Commerce must have ordered. I actually like the civic ceremony. Looking around and reflecting that these folks might be voting for the wrong guy and be totally in thrall to stupid ideas but here we all are — neighbors.

    Left me feeling much better. Now to nap and try to stay up until there’s some sort of resolution.

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  35. James Joyner says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Done!

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  36. Mikey says:

    @Gustopher:

    If we can get a dog fixed, I don’t see why we can’t get keef fixed.

    It’s a lot easier to cut a dog’s balls off than it is to cut a Trumpie’s stupid off.

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  37. @Gustopher:

    No it’s not.

    Yes it is.

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  38. @James Joyner: At a glance, it puts me in the mind of John de Lancie.

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  39. Bill says:

    @James Joyner:

    @Sleeping Dog: Done!

    I should get one of my gravatars too. What will be my image?

    1- A picture of me. I think that would cause too many computer monitors to crack. The Frankenstein monster looks better than I do.
    2- My cat? It isn’t original. My SB Nation image is of a cat I had from 1996-2006.
    3- Dung Beetles? As much as I joke about writing that story I don’t want that on my tombstone one day. “Here lays the body of the dung beetle fiction author…..”

    Can’t make up mind.

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  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: That picture is a little fuzzy.

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  41. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mikey:
    @Gustopher:

    Well, keef’s balls should be cut off, then at least there won’t be future stupidity propagated.

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  42. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Joyner:

    Welcome to the world of fuzzy faced

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  43. DrDaveT says:

    @keef: I find keef to be a fascinating case study in idea fixation. They* latch onto sound bites that seem to support their position, but never notice when they are discredited or contradicted by later evidence. Months or even years later, they are still parroting the debunked talking point. It’s as if, once they get the external affirmation they crave on a given topic, the part of their brain that weighs evidence just shuts off. That transaction is forever closed. It’s the same mechanism that leads to people who still believe that vaccination causes autism.

    *Support singular ‘they’ as the gender-neutral pronoun of choice! Jane Austen would approve!

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  44. Kylopod says:

    @keef:

    Its fascinating that the CDC sent out warnings that masks couldn’t stop (relatively speaking) bowling ball sized smoke particles from CA fires.

    Uhhhhh…..

    Social media posts are misrepresenting information by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding masks and wildfires to claim that masks do not work.

    The CDC recently updated its guidance on wildfires to include information about the coronavirus. On the page titled “Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19,” the agency said that cloth masks would not protect anyone from wildfire smoke.

    “Cloth masks that are used to slow the spread of COVID-19 by blocking respiratory droplets offer little protection against wildfire smoke. They do not catch small, harmful particles in smoke that can harm your health,” the agency said.

    Online posts are using that information to say that if smoke particles are larger than those of the coronavirus, then how could masks be effective in stopping COVID-19.

    “Mask won’t prevent smoke inhalation. But keep thinking they are protecting you from a virus,” one post on Facebook said. The posts were shared across Facebook and Twitter with one post on Twitter receiving more than 8,000 likes.

    Such posts miss the point of wearing cloth or surgical masks.

    “If the wearer has a respiratory droplet that has a virus, facial coverings keep that droplet from going out into the area around them which is why facial coverings are recommended when people are not social distancing,” Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, said. “It’s never been designed to protect the person wearing the mask.”

    N95 masks are engineered to protect against inhaling very small particles about .3 microns in size and larger, making them effective against smoke and virus particles, said Dr. Jonathan Parsons, a pulmonologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

    Wildfire particles range anywhere from 2.5 microns and smaller. A coronavirus particle is about .125 microns in size.

    “Cloth masks and surgical masks are not designed to protect you against particles that small so the smoke goes through,” Parsons said. “Respiratory droplets are much larger than the harmful materials in the wildfire smoke.”

    Parsons recommends wearing cloth and surgical masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 in wildfire areas even if they do not protect against smoke particles.

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  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Why you botha?

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  46. Flmasochist says:

    Testing

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  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @keef: I suspect there was no Communist Workers’ Party candidate this year. We didn’t have one in Washington and we have in the past. You could still have voted for the Socialism and Liberation Party ticket–La Rive and Freeman, or the Socialist Workers’ Party–Kennedy and Jarrett.

    Better luck next time! 🙂 Next year, study the voter pamphlet and the ballot more carefully. Maybe fill out a sample at home and bring it with you. You can keep it in your pocket until you get to the booth if you don’t want your neighbors to see.

    ETA: Darn! My thumbs up emoji didn’t take. I’m so sad now. I wanted to wish you good luck so much. 🙁

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  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Stupider than this?

    “We believe this will be a landslide and for the Biden campaign to come out and double down on Hillary Clinton’s egregious statement that no circumstance should you concede just tells you all you need to know,” she said.

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  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Of course, Mac aninny gets paid to say stupid things, so that might not count as heavily as saying stupid thing for free.

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  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Curious… it worked much better to respond to Dr. Taylor’s comment, than it did for keef a few comments back in the thread.

    But in the wake of the NH midnight voting stunt, there’s good news for JKB–Yahoo’s front page is calling Trump as the leader based on the 26 counted votes so far. JKB must be smelling victory in the air; it’s only a matter of time now, with that commanding of a lead.

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  51. Gustopher says:

    This just feels like the right thread for vote suppression…

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/11/03/election-ballot-delays-usps/

    The U.S. Postal Service turned down a federal judge’s order late Tuesday afternoon to sweep mail processing facilities serving 15 states, saying instead it would stick to its own inspection schedule. The court order came after the agency disclosed that more than 300,000 ballots nationwide could not be traced.

    U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District of Columbia on Tuesday had given the mail agency until 3:30 p.m. to conduct the “all clear” checks to ensure that any found ballots could be delivered before polls closed. His order affected 12 postal districts spanning 15 states.

    But in a filing sent to the court just before 5 p.m., Justice Department attorneys representing the Postal Service said the agency would not abide by the order to better accommodate inspectors’ schedules.

    USPS has decided that Court Orders are just advisory, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    So, since the Republicans are also pushing to require that a ballot must be received by election day, we can add this 300,000 to the Republican suppression numbers and attempted suppression numbers.

    (So far, the Texas GOP has lost efforts to block 127,000 drive-in votes, on the technicality that the polling stations were housed in tents which are not permanent structures… but we now know of close to half a million legally cast votes they have tried to throw out)

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  52. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    USPS has decided that Court Orders are just advisory, I guess.

    It’s not quite as bad as it sounds. Apparently the pre-set schedule that the USPS inspectors were already on would have everything swept by 8 PM today.

    Beginning in January 2020, the U.S. Postal Service began ‘all clear’ sweeps to ensure Political Mail and Election Mail, which includes voter registration materials, requests for absentee ballots and ballots themselves, were not left behind. These efforts have intensified as we’ve moved closer to Election Day,” US Postal Service spokesperson David Partenheimer said in a statement.

    “Since Oct. 29, the Inspection Service has been conducting daily reviews at all 220 facilities that process ballots. Inspectors walk the facility and observe the conditions of mail… Ballots will continue to be accepted and processed as they are presented to us and we will deliver them to their intended destination.

    Of course he could just be a lying Trump weasel, but it sounds like the USPS wasn’t planning to let stuff pile up for days without getting delivered.

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  53. Mister Bluster says:

    @keef:..And no doubt totally useless against a virus.
    Much like yourself…

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  54. Michael Cain says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Apparently the pre-set schedule that the USPS inspectors were already on would have everything swept by 8 PM today.

    8:00 means squat in my vote by mail state — ballots must be received by the county recorders by 7:00. OTOH, most of our counties have binding contracts with the USPS that require them to do sweeps late in the afternoon when it matters.

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