There is a growing debate in Richmond this year about elections; mostly driven by the new majority which believes that Republicans have done something to prevent people from voting.

I would point out that there has been no attempt to prevent voters from going to the polls in over two generations. There has, however, been attempts to make sure everyone feels confident that their vote is properly counted.

In everything we do nowadays, one has to show proper identification when they do business. From cashing a check to getting medical service, you will be asked for photo identification. In past sessions, we made the decision that a proper ID was needed at the polling place. We agreed that the state would provide a photo ID if one doesn’t have a driver’s license or other ID.

The Democrats have decided that this in some way has impeded some from voting. They have failed to provide any proof of that, but they are determined to drop the requirement that you prove you are who you claim to be.

In the debate on the House vote last week, one Delegate asked this question: “What would happen should someone come to the poll claiming to be him with no ID?” Under their proposed legislation, the person would be allowed to vote. If you came in later, the officials would tell you that you had already voted. Even with a photo ID, you would only be allowed to vote on a provisional ballot.

The next day you would have to bring that same ID to the registrar to prove your vote should be counted. Meanwhile, the person who had fraudulently voted has gotten away with his crime.

After questioning this, one of the Democrats suggested that the offended voter should call the police. He went on to say the police could investigate the crime by possibly analyzing the handwriting or the poll workers might remember what the criminal looked like.

Commonsense would tell you that neither of those answers was logical. A better solution would be to continue the current policy of allowing the undocumented voter to vote provisionally until they brought some paperwork to prove that they are who they claim to be.

In addition, the Democrats are proposing allowing anyone to register to vote on election day. Just think of the mischief this could create at a busy election poll.

Past fraud

The Democrats always claim there is practically no voter fraud occurring currently. Just to cite one situation that occurred in Petersburg: Before we required a photo ID, one man had the audacity to show a stranger that he had two voter cards. Both had the same address with different names. This happens but Commonwealth’s Attorneys in cities rarely bring charges for this crime.

Problems also occur because of human error. After we required IDs, poll workers thanked me. Often, people they should know would arrive and they knew their faces but couldn’t always remember names. Requiring an ID saved embarrassment. One time at a poll I watched all day, a person came in and was checked off improperly. Later, another person with the same last name and first initial came in and was told she had already voted. It was resolved by checking off the first voter’s name, and the second person was allowed to vote. Handled but not properly.

Future elections

Another bill that is being pushed through is the rules for the next redistricting after this year’s census. In the last redistricting, one of the rules that was used was that no district could vary more than 1/2 a percent from the size of others.

This year, they are pushing rules that would allow districts to vary from 5% more to 5% less than the average. In the Senate, that could be a variation of up to twenty thousand citizens. In addition, they want to not account for prisoners in the prisons where they are serving but rather where they originated. Combined, these two factors alone could allow those in Northern Virginia to gain more legislators while stretching rural districts as much as the size of up to two counties larger.

Hold onto your hat, Virginia is changing quickly at our region’s expense.

We will be in session until at least March 7. We would be honored for you to come to see the legislative process work. If you do, please come by our office at the Pocahontas Building, Room 505. You can also let us know your thoughts on issues by emailing us at District15@senate.virginia.gov, by mail at P. O. Box 396, Richmond, VA 23218 or by calling 804-698-7515.

Ruff is a state senator representing parts of Halifax County.