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COLUMN — Support redistricting amendment

Last week, I wrote about the several laws that were changed during the 2020 regular and the on-going special session. My focus was on how the laws were changed this year to skirt around the laws that have been put in place by both political parties over the years to ensure that voting is encouraged, and that the public is confident that the electoral process is fair and honest. Before this year, Virginia was the envy of other states that sought to have fair elections.

As I wrote last week, there should be great concern about the security of the process. Many absentee ballots applications have already been sent out by multiple groups on both sides to encourage voters to get ballots mailed to them in order to get their supporters’ votes. Using the cover of COVID-19, the General Assembly has now decided that voters are not smart enough to request an absentee ballot, so every registered voter, dead or alive, in Virginia or out, will receive another absentee ballot application.

Combined with the actions in March that eliminated showing a picture ID, there will be opportunities for fraudulent voting. Your vote will only count if you are the first to the ballot box, not someone claiming to be you. The earliest you can vote is this coming Friday, Sept. 18.

Vote in Person

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.

What Is On the Ballot?

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 10 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.

United States Postal System

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.

Frank Ruff Jr. serves as the 15th District senator in Virginia. He can be reached at Sen.Ruff@verizon.net, (434) 374-5129 or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.