Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

The measured vote counts in “battleground” states last week tested the patience of the nation, but also demonstrated that our electoral process does work, if a bit clunky at times. As the news media recorded the votes racked up by both major candidates, those same reporters had to clarify the differences between state laws that govern electoral counts, and the operational responsibilities that fall upon localities. Candidates for election may run nationwide or statewide, but all those elections are operated by the locality, using both employees and volunteers to accomplish the tasks, mostly funded by local tax dollars.

In almost all instances, and despite intense emotions about the outcome, local election officials performed admirably, refusing to be cowed by demonstrators outside counting centers, and ensuring that reported vote counts were accurate. In Fairfax County alone, with portions of three congressional districts, and town elections in Herndon and Vienna, multiple iterations of ballots, in multiple languages, had to be prepared for voters in all 244 precincts. Overall, nearly 600,000 Fairfax County voters cast ballots in the 2020 general election. That’s a turnout rate of 78.8 percent. A significant majority of voters exercised the option of voting by mail, or absentee in-person at the satellite locations (and using the ballot drop boxes). As a result, only about 3l percent of voters actually voted on Election Day, which accounts for the shorter lines last Tuesday. The results in Mason District differ slightly from the county results: 76 percent (52,543) of voters cast ballots overall, and 35 percent (18,286) of those voted on Election Day. Barcroft, Camelot, and Belvedere precincts had the highest percentage of voter turnout in Mason District, at 86, 83.9, and 83.6 percent, respectively.

Despite the persuasive election results for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the two months remaining in Mr. Trump’s term of office heighten anxiety about the future. Mr. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the results of the 2020 election is not surprising; his lack of adherence to the oath he took on January 20, 2017 also is not surprising. What may be surprising, and potentially dangerous, is what presidential authorities he may exercise in the next 70 or so days, to disrupt our democratic processes and the peaceful transition of power to the new administration. Firing the Secretary of Defense in a fit of post-election pique may be a first step in his slash-and-burn response to the election results. The voters deserve better; the nation deserves better; democracy deserves better. January 20, 2021 can’t come soon enough!

Switching to a purely local issue, there is a rise in reports about bike theft and car break-ins in the region.Bikes are being stolen from backyards and front porches, during the day and in the middle of the night. Similarly, there are reports of car break-ins at night; thieves are seeking loose change and tech devices left in the open. It’s an annoyance, but take bicycles inside, and lock both the bike and the door. When you park your car, click the remote control a second time and wait for the beep to ensure that the vehicle is locked. Take a few extra seconds to avoid becoming a victim.

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