UPDATE: Polls Open Until 7 PM Despite Quake
Registrar says some polling places are operating outside due to ongoing damage assessment; expects some delays in reporting results tonight.
UPDATE: Here's an update of Fairfax County precincts affected by today's earthquake during primary elections, courtesy of Fairfax County Registrar Edgardo Cortes: 226 of the county's 232 precincts are back inside their polling places.
These precincts are still operating outdoors or are in the process of moving indoors:
- Merrifield 721 – are in the process of locating back into building
- Alban 623 / Saratoga 626 (dual polling place) – staff was en route to reopen school for polling places
- Bull Run 923 – will continue voting outside. School has some structural damage and will not be usable tonight. They will have access to get any items needed for closing polls and getting results. Electricity is being run outside to keep machines going.
- Centreville 918 – we are still assessing situation. Some unconfirmed reports of structural damage
- Kenmore 309 – staff was en route to reopen facility
Fairfax County will keep polling places open until 7 p.m. today despite an unusual 5.9 earthquake that hit the area this afternoon and has area residents shaken.
Some polling places were moving voting outdoors this afternoon while experts check buildings for any structural damage and to be sure no one is in danger of loose building materials falling.
"We're setting up voting in parking lots in some places," said Edgardo Cortes, registrar, for Fairfax County Office of Elections. Voting in parking lots is either by paper ballot or machines operating on battery power, he noted.
Cortes said he was in the middle of evaluating turnout for today's election when the quake hit. "We'll probably be in the single digits," he said. Typical turnout is somewhere between 10-15 percent he said. Many were already predicting a low turnout day for primary voting in Northern Virginia due to redistricting moving the date to late August when many are on vacation.
"It's been an interesting afternoon," Cortes said from his office at the Fairfax County Government Center. "I think the biggest impact is that the results may be delayed somewhat" due to spotty cell phone service.
Cortes said he has not heard from any campaigns wanting to reschedule any primary elections. "The only person who can call a halt to elections is the governor," Cortes said. "We don't have the ability, locally, to do that."
At about 4:15 p.m. today, Cortes was assessing whether each precinct was still up and running. "We have extra people so anyone who had to leave, we have others who can fill in."