Early voting wait time reaches 2 hours in Virginia's most populous county

Waiting times for early voting in Virginia’s most populous county have reached two hours in the more than a month since early voting began. 

Fairfax County has seen about 9,400 people per day voting early and in-person. The amount of people compounded with social distancing requirements that limit the number of ballot machines and check-in stations has led to the lengthy waits, according to The Washington Post

County election officials told the Post that the high turnout is due to the highly watched race between President TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE


Trump's repeated suggestions about voter fraud related to mail-in voting may also be a factor. There is no evidence that there is more fraud due to mail-in voting than in-person voting, but Trump's claims could be leading more of his supporters to vote early and in person.

Fairfax County increased its number of early-voting sites to 15 this year, from six in 2016, as the coronavirus pandemic in general is causing more people to vote by mail or early this year. 

Gary Scott, the head of the Fairfax County elections office, told the Post that coronavirus concerns have slowed things down due to limited ballot machines and a decreased number of poll workers.

He added that several of the almost 10,000 voters who received mail-in absentee ballots changed their minds and want to vote in person, meaning poll workers have to devote more time to nullifying absentee ballots, delaying the line.

Franconia Government Center is one polling location that has experienced longer waits, and about 150 people were already in line before the polls opened at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Voter advocates have called for the early voting times to be extended from between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays. They have also emphasized that the longer wait times disproportionately affect lower-income residents who have to take off work to stand in line or hire a babysitter, according to the newspaper.

Election officials have prepared for 150,000 voters to vote early and in-person, which they are expected to reach. omre than 144,000 absentee ballots had been submitted as of Thursday.

Voters in other areas of the country are facing even longer waiting times up to 10 hours to vote early and in-person.