Fairfax County Democratic Committee recognized by NAACP Chapter for Protecting Voters’ Rights


At its annual Awards Luncheon on Saturday, September 13th in Springfield, VA, the Fairfax Chapter of NAACP recognized the Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) for its long standing, ongoing programs to protect voters’ rights. Sue Langley, Chair of FCDC, said,
“Congratulations to FCDC’s Election Law and Voter Protection Committee for this honor.   I’m proud of their long standing excellent work to protect voters’ rights.”
Often taken for granted, the right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights of each American citizen. This right has been under attack in recent years by politically motivated forces seeking to prevent groups of citizens from voting.  Great efforts and diligence are needed to halt the disenfranchisement of these groups of vulnerable citizens, which typically include the elderly, minorities, and college age students.
The Election Law and Voter Protection Committee (ELVP) is a standing committee of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC). It was created in 2008 by then Chair Scott Surovell, after years of experience with voting issues being dealt with more on an ad hoc basis. When notified of the award, Surovell commented,
“Protecting the integrity of our elections is a critical function for local committees, especially in light of the renewed interest in voter suppression.  I’m proud that FCDC had the vision to lead the way in institutionalizing this service as a core function of our committee in 2008.”
The ELVP Committee supervises the operation of all election protection activities, and it conducts formal training sessions for precinct level volunteers. Most of its volunteers are lawyers or Democratic Committee members versed in election law.  The committee strives to make sure every vote is counted, in addition to advocating and commenting on proposed legislation affecting voting rights.
Working closely with the entire FCDC membership, ELVP Committee members monitor, evaluate, and staff the voting precincts, making sure that each citizen can fully and fairly exercise his or her right to vote.  In addition to an Election Day presence at polling places throughout the County, ELVP provides Democratic Party volunteers to conduct the post-election canvasses at Fairfax County Government Center. Canvasses verify the accuracy of Election Night vote counts. ELVP volunteers also participate in any formal recount arising from any election held in Fairfax County.
ELVP advises the FCDC Chair on election law issues. To keep abreast of election related matters within the Commonwealth, committee members regularly attend the Fairfax County Electoral Board meetings as well as meetings of the State Board of Elections.
The past two years have been especially busy for members of ELVP.  Since new legislation became effective July 1st, imposing even more restrictive voter identification, ELVP members organized an on-line comment drive, and provided written comments and live testimony to the State Board of Elections regarding photo identification registration cards and regulations as well as proposed absentee ballot regulations. ELVP has been intimately involved with efforts to educate the public about new laws affecting the right to vote – especially the new photo identification requirements.
ELVP actively and successfully works with elected officials to advocate changes to election-related legislation or regulations. They developed an instructional guide for mail-in absentee voters that dramatically reduced the number of mailed-in absentee ballots that were rejected. They also produced instructional materials for each of the different versions of the voter-ID laws adopted by the General Assembly in each of the last three years. And ELVP has successfully advocated for additional early in-person absentee voting days and additional satellite locations to accommodate voters who are unable to vote in person on Election Day or must commute long distances to exercise their right to vote.