Uniformity in Election Administration: A 2008 Survey of Swing State County Clerks--Virginia Edition

by Allison McNeely, Adam Fogel // Published October 20, 2008

The Democracy SOS Project aims to increase transparency in election administration and to monitor the actions of election officials, starting with Secretaries of State. This series reports the results of surveys of county clerks in 10 “swing states” during the 2008 presidential election. FairVote staff and interns surveyed nearly every county clerk in Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as election officials in counties with at least 500,000 residents in Ohio, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.

We asked questions designed to shed light on the practices of the county, as well as their interpretation and compliance with state law. We asked questions regarding the allocation of voting machines and poll booths in order to assess the county clerks’ preparedness in ensuring that there would not be long lines and everyone would be able to vote on Election Day. We asked every county clerk if they planned to put together a written allocation plan of their machines/booths to assess if these plans have been well thought out. We inquired as to when draft and final versions of the ballot would be ready to assess their clarity and ensure the public has time to review the ballot before Election Day, which helps cut down the amount of time voters spend in the voting booth. Finally, we asked about the number of post-secondary institutions in each county and if they had oncampus polling locations to evaluate accessibility for youth voters.

There are 95 counties and 39 cities with their own election administrators in Virginia, of which we were able to contact 70 counties and 26 cities. We were unable to complete surveys with officials in the following counties: Amelia, Bath, Bland, Charlotte, Clarke, Craig, Culpeper, Cumberland, Dickenson, Floyd, Fluvanna, Franklin, Grayson, Lee, Lunenburg, Madison, Northumberland, Rappahannock, Richmond, Rockingham, Russell, Sussex, Westmoreland, Wise, York; and cities: Alexandria, Buena Vista, Colonial Heights, Covington, Franklin, Galax, Newport News, Richmond, Salem, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Waynesboro, and Williamsburg.