Free and fair voting is the basic premise of any democracy.

Remember the stories that came out of Iraq after the fall of the Shah? People gleefully showed their purple fingers. This was their proof that they had taken part in the electoral process. The purple ink was the government’s way of preventing someone from voting more than once.

Maybe we should learn from them and follow their lead. One person gets one vote. That might not be where we are after this year.

Prior to this year, the focus of election law was how to best encourage participation in the voting process while at the same time giving comfort to all that the process was honest and properly conducted. Several years ago, we changed the law to require IDs and, later, photo IDs prior to voting. I remember poll workers quietly thanking me because sometimes they would be embarrassed because they knew the person but couldn’t recall their name. Having an ID made their job easier.

Some argued that we were trying to prevent people from voting. They argued that some people didn’t have a photo ID. They mentioned seniors without driver’s licenses. The Democrats seem to not realize that, for most medical services such as Medicare and hospitals and other providers, a photo ID is required.

This year, with the Democrats having a majority in both the Senate and the House, they were able to roll back the security measures that had been developed by both parties over the years. Not only did they do away with the photo ID, they also decided that you could vote without any form of ID at all. In fact, under their new law one could go to the polling place and claim they were someone they were not. They would be allowed to vote if they fraudulently signed a statement claiming to be that person. Later, if you were the person who they had claimed to be and came to vote, you would not be allowed to vote. Well, they would let you vote provisionally, even if you presented your photo ID, but your provisional ballot would not be counted because the fraud had taken your vote.

If that was not bad enough, they now have decided that, because of COVID-19, they would change other things that safeguard your rights. Currently, any voter can ask for an absentee ballot application and citizens will be allowed to vote. You can simply mail or bring your ballot to the registrar. That was not good enough! Consider these new policies:

1. They will mail an absentee ballot to every registered voter even if you don’t want one.

2. Because the ballots will be sent out by first class mail, if the voter has moved out of state the ballot will be forwarded to them. That individual will be able to vote twice, once in each state.

3. Absentee ballots are required to have a witness sign that this is an authentic voter voting. They have eliminated that step.

4. By law you can return your ballot in person or by mail. They have a new option of using unprotected boxes placed around that will not have observers. Those boxes could be used to drop any number of illegal ballots in them. Once in the box, how will anyone know if they are legitimate?

5. Current law states that you can mail or bring your ballot as well as your spouse. They have changed the law to allow and encourage some to “harvest” ballots. That is where one person can gather up all the ballots he can find and stuff them into these unmanned boxes.

With millions of ballots going out in one week, word will spread rapidly. Someone could easily follow a mail carrier and retrieve some ballots before voters could get to their mailbox. Those ballots could be fraudulently filled out and returned before a voter has any idea what had happened. On Election Day, one could go to the polls only to be told that his ballot had been voted by mail. The voter would have no recourse.

Gov. Ralph Northam will have overseen the greatest takeover of your right to choose your representatives than any foreign power ever dreamed. His stunt is occurring in state after state that are controlled by Democrat governors. Apparently, they are not convinced that the polls having them win in November are accurate, including Virginia.

The safest and surest way to eliminate any fraud is to drop by the county registrar’s office as soon as possible. There they have machines set up. Once they are sure you are who you say you are, they will allow you to vote, preventing anyone else from using your name to vote. While it is certainly possible to vote absentee by mail, if you decide to do so, file as soon as you can to avoid the risk of someone trying to cast your vote as if they were you. Hopefully, any double requests will be caught, but that might happen.

As everyone knows, the race for president, the United States Senate and House of Representatives will be on the ballot. Additionally, not to be overlooked is a proposed change to the state constitution. The question relates to the issue of redistricting after the census has been concluded. In the past, whoever controlled the House and Senate drew the new lines for each district, always they hoped, to their advantage. The Democrats for a century; followed by the Republicans for a decade. In the last redistricting, the House had a Republican majority in which they drew the lines, and the Democrats controlled the Senate and thus they drew the new lines.

With the aid of Democrat led activists, an independent group pushed for a change to the state constitution to reduce the political nature of the redistricting process, and they were successful. Hence, the voters are being asked to vote up or down: Do you want the constitution to require that a bipartisan group draw new political lines every ten years after the census?

That is a simple question that I hope the voters will agree with. Prior to this year, most legislators thought that this was a good idea. However, this year, after the Democrats gained control of the House, many changed their tune. Some Democrats decided that they could do a better job of redistricting than a bipartisan group. If one chooses to believe that, they need to look no farther than the 15th Senate District, which the Democrats drew. It currently stretches from across the James River from Jamestown to the Franklin and Henry County lines to the west.

I encourage every voter to consider this issue and vote. My belief is that bi-partisan redistricting would be a good and positive direction for Virginia.

Some have had great pleasure in condemning the post office saying that they can’t be trusted to deliver the mail on time. Everyone has a story about lost or delayed mail. Those stories go back for many years. Considering the volume of mail that must be processed every day, the percentage that goes array is negligible. What has changed is an effort to politicize the postal system. If you choose to vote by mail, don’t wait until the last week.

Ruff is a state senator representing parts of Halifax County. Contact him at, 434-374-5129, or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.