Tysons, VA

Monday Morning Notes

Falls Church Middle Eastern Restaurant Officers Discount for Guests Who Voted — “Sheesh Grill [in] Falls Church (8190 Strawberry Lane Ste 4) will offer diners who present their ‘I Voted’ sticker a discount off their meal from Oct. 26-Nov. 3.” [Sheesh]

Locals Help Science Teacher Clear Daniels Run Elementary Courtyard — “On #VolunteerFest weekend, students from Fairfax and Lake Braddock high schools help a science teacher clean up a courtyard at her school, Daniels Run Elementary.” [Twitter]

Tysons Chamber of Commerce Urges Greater Business Collaboration — “The chamber now is focusing on “business verticals” that encourage companies in complementary industries to purchase services from each other, said Andrew Clark, the chamber’s new board chairman.” [Inside Nova]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The McLean Governmental Center and Providence Community Center are among the most popular sites for early voting in Fairfax County after the county expanded early voting to 13 satellite locations on Oct. 14.

While voters have shown up in droves throughout the county, turnout has been especially high at those two Tysons-area sites, Mount Vernon Government Center in Alexandria, and Reston’s North County Governmental Center, according to county officials.

The Fairfax County Government Center, which has been open for early voting since Sept. 18, also remains popular, but the addition of the satellite locations has eased some of the pressure there after weeks of unusually long lines and wait times.

The wait time for voting in-person now generally ranges from 20 to 40 minutes, though it varies depending on the time of day and day of the week, Fairfax County public information officer Brian Worthy says, noting that mornings tend to be busier.

Sen. Mark Warner (D), who visited the McLean Governmental Center and other early voting sites in Northern Virginia on Saturday (Oct. 17), called the strong turnout “a great sign.”

“This is the first year we’ve had early voting, so I think maybe in future years, [we could think about] opening up additional sites earlier,” Warner said. “But I also think it’s a great sign of how healthy our democracy is if this many people are coming out to vote.”

Saturday represented the biggest turnout yet for Fairfax County. The nearly 11,000 early votes cast on Oct. 17 exceeded the biggest day for early voting in 2016, which came on the final day for early voting in that election, according to the county elections office.

Election workers at the McLean Governmental Center on Saturday told Tysons Reporter that the number of people arriving to cast ballots grew throughout the week, starting around 500 people and peaking at 800 people that Friday (Oct. 16).

Turnout continued to be brisk on Saturday, but the lines were shorter and moved more quickly, because some people instead went to Great Falls Library, which opened on Oct. 17 and is only available for early voting on Saturdays. Read More

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Gov. Ralph Northam Shows Up to Fairfax County Early Voting — “I was glad to see voters and election workers in Fairfax today staying safe, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing” [Twitter]

Reminder: Barbie Truck Coming to Tysons Corner Center This Week — “A Barbie truck is crossing the country on a tour that will stop at Tysons Corner Center late next month to sell limited edition retro Barbie material. The truck is scheduled to stop at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.” [Tysons Reporter]

Vienna Launches ‘Stop and Stroll’ Initiative — “Starting on Oct. 24, a different shopping center will be featured on select Saturdays. The shopping centers will host socially-distant seasonal activities and in-store promotions.” [Patch]

Cut Cable in Vienna Cancels Arlington Classes — “Our ISP notified us of a major fiber cut in Vienna causing a service disruption for APS. The vendor is working to restore service, but there is no estimate for restoration.” [Twitter]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (Oct. 20)

Wednesday (Oct. 21)

  • Sugar Skull Magnets Crafternoon (Online) — 3-3:30 p.m. — Join the Mary Riley Styles Public Library’s Facebook page to learn about Día de los Muertos while crafting sugar skull magnets using a Grab & Go Craft Kit that can be picked up at curbside, the website said. Grab & Go Kits can be picked up until tomorrow (Oct. 20) while supplies last. The craft video will remain available on the MRSPL Facebook page in the Crafternoon playlist.

Thursday (Oct. 22)

  • Preschool Story Time (Online) — 10:30-11 a.m. — Mary Riley Styles Public Library will go live with virtual songs, stories, and rhythms on its Facebook page.
  • Middle School Book Club (Online) — 4-5 p.m. — For children in grades 6-8. Discussing Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, the group will meet via Zoom. Email Laura Miller, [email protected], to request the Zoom link.

Friday (Oct. 23)

  • Virtual Family Fun Trivia Night — 7-9 p.m. — Gather the whole family around the computer or tablet and get ready for some socially distant trivia, according to the event website. The cost is $5 for resident families and $8 for non-resident families. To register, use this link.
  • Drive-Thru Drama (October 23-25), 6-8:15 p.m. — Drive-Thru Drama is a social-distance theatre format that brings people together for live theatre from the comfort of their own car, the website said.  Actors will perform one, cohesive story through short scenes across the McLean Community Center parking lot. Audience members will simply roll down their windows and drive the route from actor to actor. The entries will be timed in 15-minute increments.

Saturday (Oct. 24)

  • Falls Church Farmers Market — 8 a.m.-12 p.m. at City Hall Parking Lot (300 Park Avenue) — Enjoy fresh, local produce, meat, dairy, flowers & plants, honey, music, and so much more at the Falls Church Farmers Market, the website said.
  • Vienna Farmers Market — 8 a.m.-12 p.m. at Vienna Community Center Parking Lot (120 Cherry Street SE ) — Sponsored by the Optimist Club of Greater Vienna, the Vienna Farmers Market features approximately 30 vendors from across the region offering locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and homemade eats, the website said.
  • In-Person Early Voting — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at City Hall (300 Park Ave.) — Early voting is available to all registered voters, the website said. Voters must wear a mask and bring acceptable voter ID.
  • Prescription Drug Take-Back Day — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Falls Church Community Center (223 Little Falls St.) — Drop off any expired, unused, or unwanted pills and patches free and anonymously with the Falls Church Police Department, the website said. Vape pens and eCigarettes are also accepted as long as the battery is removed. Liquids, needles and other sharp items will not be accepted.

Photo by Jakub Kapusnak/Unsplash

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Satellite Voting Locations Open — Voters can now cast their ballots at 13 satellite locations around Fairfax County, including the McLean Governmental Center, Providence Community Center, Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library, and Thomas Jefferson Library in the Tysons area. [Fairfax County Office of Elections]

VDOT Extends 495 NEXT Public Comment Period — The deadline for public feedback on the Virginia Department of Transportation’s I-495 Express Lanes Northern Extension Project has been extended to Dec. 4. The extension comes after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution asking the department to give more time for public input. [Virginia Department of Transportation/Sun Gazette]

Vienna Girl Among First Female Eagle Scouts in U.S. — Katie Hunter, a 13-year-old Vienna resident, is expected to become one of the first girls in the country to be awarded the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank when she is inaugurated as an Eagle Scout in February 2021. [Patch]

New Trees Planted in Blake Lane Park — “We planted some more trees in Providence this Saturday! Blake Lane Park is full of green life and pollinators. Thank you to all of the volunteers” [Twitter]

Tysons Tech Company Hiring Data Engineer — “IronNet is looking for a Principal Cyber #Data Engineer to join their passionate small business headquartered in Tysons Corner, VA but operating completely remote!” [Twitter]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The Fairfax County Government Center will open for in-person absentee voting tomorrow, a week earlier than the county originally planned to start holding Saturday hours for early voting.

Early voting locations were scheduled to start opening on Saturdays on Oct. 17, but the Fairfax County Office of Elections announced on Tuesday (Oct. 6) that it will commence Saturday hours this week instead to accommodate record numbers of early voters, who have faced long lines and extended wait times.

“The short answer is due to the large number of requests from voters, from elected officials, and my electoral board all asked that we consider if it was possible to provide an extra day of voting,” Fairfax County Office of Elections director and general registrar Gary Scott said when asked about the change.

Voters can cast absentee ballots this Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the government center, which is currently the only place in Fairfax County open for early voting.

Additional relief from the crowds that have swarmed the government center since early voting began on Sept. 18 will arrive on Oct. 14, when 14 satellite voting locations open — almost twice the number of sites that the county provided in past years, according to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay.

Satellite locations in the Tysons area include the McLean Governmental Center, Providence Community Center, Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library, and Thomas Jefferson Library.

Early voting hours at these locations are from 1-7 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and 9-5 p.m. on Saturdays. All sites are closed on Sundays.

Public health anxieties and the Virginia General Assembly’s auspiciously timed approval of no-excuse absentee voting have contributed to high levels of early voting around Northern Virginia.

The Fairfax County Office of Elections reported on Thursday that voters have cast almost 62,500 vote-by-mail ballots so far, a 40 percent increase over the total from 2016, the last year with a presidential race on the ballot.

As of Oct. 7, Fairfax has gotten about 18,000 in-person voters, with about 1,300 people showing up per day, according to Scott.

City of Falls Church director of elections David Bjerke told WUSA9 that the city has seen 100 to 200 voters coming in-person every day, and 5,337 people — 50% of the city’s voters — had either cast or applied for a mail ballot as of Oct. 6.

In-person early voting ends on Oct. 31, and the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 23. Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered to a polling location or postmarked by Election Day on Nov. 3, with Nov. 6 as the deadline for the Office of Elections to receive mailed ballots.

Scott warned voters against requesting a ballot by mail and then trying to vote in-person.

“Having requested a ballot by mail will slow down their process when they go in and try to vote in person,” Scott said. “They’re certainly welcome to do it. They just need to understand that it will take longer for them, once they check in, to actually vote than it would be to return the ballot, either by mail or putting it in one of our drop boxes.”

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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Fairfax County is seeing record numbers of locals turning out to vote early, in some cases leading to long lines at polls.

The County is planning to open more locations starting Wednesday, Oct. 14, as millions of Americans nationwide vote early in the election.

Upcoming voting facilities in the Tysons area include:

  • McLean Governmental Center (1437 Balls Hill Road)
  • Providence Community Center (3001 Vaden Drive)
  • Tysons Pimmit Library (7584 Leesburg Pike)
  • Thomas Jefferson Library (7415 Arlington Blvd.)

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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If you’ve been to absentee in-person voting and the lines have seemed particularly long, you’re not alone.

Fairfax voters have been lining up at 12000 Government Center Parkway to cast their ballots early and avoid election day crowds, only to find themselves in long lines with other early voters turning up in record numbers.

Some said the numbers seemed to swell yesterday after the debate, but Public Information Officer Brian Worthy said the numbers have been pretty consistent.

“At least to me, it doesn’t seem like the lines are any longer, and I’ve been here at the Government Center for every day of early voting since it began,” Worthy said.

Worthy said COVID-19 precautions have made wait times longer than usual.

“Since the start of early voting on Friday, Sept. 18, we have had two polling places open in the Government Center, and… we’re limiting the number of people in at any one time for the safety of both voters and poll workers,” Worthy said. “Similarly, we’re keep the line outside because it’s safer for voters to wait there rather than inside the building. As result of COVID, voting is taking longer.”

A county employee at the location said despite the long lines, it was a fraction of what the line was like on previous days.

Two voters, Karen and James Shaver, said they watched the debate the previous night. They described it as “loud” but said it didn’t sway their vote.

In addition to the long lines, voters have endured harassment and attempts to keep people out of the building from supporters of President Donald Trump.

Worthy said the lines should be alleviated by plans to open up satellite facilities for voting later this month.

“We’re opening additional early voting sites on Oct. 14,” Worthy said. “We’ll have 14 additional locations open that day (including the Government Center) with a total of 15 starting on Saturday, Oct. 17.”

Voting facilities in the Tysons area include:

  • McLean Governmental Center (1437 Balls Hill Road)
  • Providence Community Center (3001 Vaden Drive)
  • Tysons Pimmit Library (7584 Leesburg Pike)
  • Thomas Jefferson Library (7415 Arlington Blvd.)

Jay Westcott contributed to this story

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Job seekers have the chance to apply for a new seasonal gig. The Fairfax County Office of Elections recently announced it’s hiring more than 200 workers for the November election.

The positions came about because the elections office is expecting a significant rise in absentee voting this year, Brian Worthy, a Fairfax County spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

Applicants can apply to be considered for three various positions, according to the job listings.

About 200 people are needed to process mailed absentee ballots, starting around Sept. 28 and likely working until a few days after the election. Meanwhile, about 40 people will get hired to assist inperson absentee voters at satellite locations from Oct. 14-Oct. 31. A limited number of people are needed for the administration tasks like data input, which the job description did not include a timeframe for.

“Skills we are looking for are people who have attention to detail and basic computer skills,” Worthy said, adding that applicants must also be registered voters in Virginia. Other requirements and a detailed description of each position can be found online.

“For all positions, you are hired as a seasonal employee, paid hourly, and must go through a background check including fingerprinting. The work is seasonal with no benefits and is dependent on the election schedule,” the listing said, adding that most employees will be paid around $14 an hour. The opportunities are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“We are still in the hiring process so we don’t have a count of how many positions have been filled yet,” Worthy said.

Anyone interested in applying can fill out an online Survey Monkey form. Applicants shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t hear back right away, Worthy said.

“The hiring process does take some time, so people might not hear back immediately,” according to Worthy, who added that he encourages people to apply early so they will have plenty of time to complete the onboarding process.

According to Fairfax County’s website, there are also openings for local election officers. The county said that it’s received roughly 10 times the normal number of applications for the election officer roles.

Photo via Tiffany Tertipes/Unsplash

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Updated 11:15 a.m. — Jonathan Shapiro, the president of Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Company, apologized in a statement, saying that the printing vendor is responsible for the “major error.”

“This mistake occurred because we incorrectly aligned a spreadsheet that matched the voter with their local election office,” Shapiro said, adding that CVI did not review the spreadsheet and that the printing vendor has taken steps to make sure mistakes are caught in the future. 

“This is not the level of work that SED and our partner, Quad Graphics, pride ourselves on. We have printed and mailed over 100 million vote-by-mail applications and voter registration applications without error and we are committed to the highest standards of quality control and excellence,” Shapiro said.

“In this mailing we fell far short of that goal. We apologize to CVI, to the staff at the affected local boards of election, and to the voters.”

Earlier: Be careful if you get a mailer from the Center for Voter Information, Fairfax County election officials say.

Fairfax County and City of Fairfax residents have been sharing on social media and to Tysons Reporter that they received the mailers from the Center for Voter Information, which have incorrect return addresses.

County officials are warning voters about the “inaccurate and potentially misleading mailing” that asks people to return them to the City of Fairfax.

The Center for Voter Information said in a statement that it is “working diligently” with local election officials to get the returned mailers to the correct addresses. Roughly 500,000 mailers included incorrect information, the voter registration group said.

“Mistakes in our programming are very rare, but we take them seriously, and our methods overall are extraordinarily effective,” the statement said, adding that it regrets “adding to any confusion” to voters as the November election nears.

“Please rest assured that we are working with local election officials in Virginia to re-direct the vote by mail applications to the proper locations, and will rectify any errors at our own expense,” the statement said.

The Virginia Department of Elections said that any applications that get sent to the wrong locality’s office will be sent to the correct office.

More from Fairfax County on the mailers:

This group is mass mailing pre-filled, absentee ballot applications to county voters without their request — and the mailer includes return envelopes to send the application to the City of Fairfax, not Fairfax County.

“This mailing is causing great confusion and concern among voters who have been contacting our office,” said Fairfax County General Registrar Gary Scott. “While the mailing may appear to be from an official government agency, the Fairfax County Office of Elections did not send it.”

The mailing is also confusing voters who have previously submitted absentee ballot applications themselves, Scott added. These voters are worried that their applications were not received, leading them to think they need to apply again.

Fairfax County is working with the City of Fairfax to ensure any applications received from the center’s inaccurate mailing will be processed by the county.

This is not the first time that mailers from the Center for Voter Information have confused Virginians.

The News Leader, a newspaper in Staunton, explained last year how organizations can obtain mailing addresses after the Center for Voter Information confused residents with a mailer about voter registration.

County election officials said that election information from the county will include a county seal on the envelope, along with the “Official Election Mail Authorized by the U. S. Postal Service” logo.

Fairfax County voters who want to return the Center for Voter Information applications should mail it to the Fairfax County Office of Elections (12000 Government Center Parkway Suite 323, Fairfax, VA 22035), Brian Worthy, a county spokesperson, said.

People who want to absentee vote by mail can apply online, which will allow them to track the status of their application, or vote in-person at 15 locations. Registered voters can expect their ballots to arrive after Sept. 18.

Photo by Element5 Digital/Unsplash, photo via mailer via Fairfax County

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