Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Absentee in-person voting continues to be robust at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. Any voter registered in Fairfax County may vote absentee in-person at any of the satellite polling stations through this Saturday, Oct. 31. Thursday and Friday, hours are 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Saturday hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. If you decided not to send your ballot through the U.S. Postal Service, you may utilize the ballot drop box during operating hours at the satellite voting centers, or take your completed ballot, in the security envelopes, to any Fairfax County polling place on Election Day. All 244 precincts will have a ballot drop box available, and you don’t have to wait in line to drop your completed ballot.

In recent presidential elections, the Commonwealth of Virginia was watched closely by national pollsters as a linchpin vital for a win. In 2008, Fairfax County voters provided the margin that put Barack Obama over the top, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate won the state since 1964. President Obama carried Virginia again in 2012, but with a narrower margin. In 2016, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton won Virginia’s popular vote, and its 13 electoral votes. Across those three elections, the statewide voter turnout increased only slightly – 260,000 more people voted in 2016 than 2008. With all the hype about voter registration and early voting, will next week’s results in Virginia reflect a larger actual turnout, or maintain the fairly narrow margins experienced in the past? That will be an interesting analysis for the prognosticators next week.

It is folly to pre-suppose what will happen in an election. Too many hopes have been dashed by lost elections – the Clinton/Trump result is a case in point. In Northern Virginia, it appears that Democratic candidates, from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to Senator Mark Warner, and Representatives Don Beyer (8th District), Jennifer Wexton (10th District), and Gerry Connolly (11th District), will win handily. Northern Virginia voters recognize that, in the quest to recapture the soul and values of America (so damaged by Mr. Trump and his henchmen), the ticket to success is Biden/Harris. Our democracy cannot survive four more years of the lies, ineptitude, personal pique, and destruction of social norms that fuel Mr. Trump’s presidency. As I noted in last week’s column, improving and preserving our democratic values and ideals will mean hard work for all of us. Voting is easy; it’s what comes next that will be hard. Working to find common ground and resolve significant social and economic issues requires a leader who respects ideas and differences, like Joe Biden. Someone who has years of diplomatic experience with international allies as well as adversaries, like Joe Biden. Someone who has empathy in his DNA, like Joe Biden.

Halloween observances will be different this year because of Covid-19. It appears that many neighbors are doing more spooky decorations, so a vehicle or foot parade may be one way for the whole family to enjoy the holiday, sans trick or treating.

However you decide to celebrate Halloween, be sure to set clocks back one hour when you retire for the evening. Standard time returns at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, so you can get an extra hour of sleep!

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.