Letters to the Editor for August 19 Edition


New changes will affect November voting


We are now less than 85 days from the November 3 General Election. Several changes in Virginia law will affect this election.

• By Mail Absentee Voting – As of July 1, Virginia voters no longer need to provide a reason to vote absentee. Qualified, registered voters can request to have a ballot mailed to them by completing a “vote by mail” application. Voters who wish to have a ballot mailed to them (vote by mail) can complete an application online at https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation. Applications can also be requested by calling our office at (540) 928-2120. Ballots will be mailed on/before September 18 for applications received prior to that date. Applications received after that date will be processed and ballots mailed within three days of receipt. Voters are encouraged to apply early to allow ample time for receipt and processing of the application, mailing of the ballot and return of the marked ballot prior to the deadline.

• In-Person Absentee Voting – Qualified, registered voters can vote absentee in-person (early voting) beginning Friday, Sept. 18. The Botetourt County Department of Elections & Voter Registration is located at 2 East Main Street, Fincastle with office hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. The office will also be open on Saturday, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for in-person absentee voting. Saturday, Oct. 31 is the deadline to vote in-person absentee for the November 3 General Election.

• ID required – Voters are no longer required to present a valid photo identification when voting in-person. Voters are required to provide identification in the form of a voter registration card; driver’s license; current bank statement, utility bill, paycheck, etc. with name and address; US passport; military ID; employer issued photo ID; student ID issued by U.S. university/college. A complete list of all acceptable forms of identification can be found at https://www.elections.virginia.gov/casting-a-ballot/in-person-voting/.

• Last date to request a mailed absentee ballot — As of July 1, the deadline to request a mailed absentee ballot changed from 7 days prior to an election to 11 days prior to an election to allow additional time for handling by the Postal Service. The deadline to request a mailed absentee ballot for the November 3 General Election is Friday, Oct. 23, at 5 p.m. Voters are encouraged to request their ballot as early as possible to allow adequate time for processing and mailing for receipt by the deadline.

• Return of marked absentee ballot – As of July 1, all marked absentee ballots must be returned to the Registrar’s Office either by mail (USPS), commercial delivery service (UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.) or in person by the voter themselves. A marked ballot cannot be hand-delivered by anyone other than the voter to whom the ballot belongs. Marked ballots being delivered by mail or commercial delivery service must be postmarked no later than Election Day (November 3) and must be received in the Registrar’s Office by noon on Friday, Nov. 6. In person deliveries must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

• Voter Registration Deadline – Qualified citizens who wish to register to vote, update their registration due to an address or name change must do so prior to Tuesday, Oct. 13. In person registration/updates must be completed by 5 p.m. and online registration/updates must be completed by 11:59 p.m. on that date to be eligible to vote in the November 3 General Election. Registration or updates to registration can be done in-person in the Registrar’s Office during regular business hours or online at https://www.elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal/.

• Election Officers Needed – Elections cannot take place without an adequate number of election officers. Any voter registered in the Commonwealth of Virginia is eligible to serve as an election officer in any locality throughout the state. This is a great way to give back to your community while being a very important part of our democratic process. Our roster of officers range in age from 18 to 88 and we are always looking for more voters to add to the list. For more information and forms to be completed, go to https://botetourtva.gov/botetourt/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/PEO-FORMS-PACKAGE-combined-1.pdf .

• Election Day – Polls open at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, for in-person voting and will close at 7 p.m. Voters who are in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote should they be properly registered and are in the correct precinct. Voters are encouraged to allow additional time to vote as turnout is expected to be high. Due to COVID-19 and the associated precautions, voters are encouraged to wear a mask and maintain social distancing within the precinct. Officers of elections may limit the number of voters in the precinct to maintain social distancing. Officers will also be vigilant in cleaning hard surfaces used by voters. Voters with concerns about voting in-person due to COVID are encouraged to request a mailed ballot prior to the deadline.

Traci S. Clark, VREO, Director of Elections & General Registrar, County of Botetourt


Writer says Americans have been duped by modern-day alchemists


As Americans, we tend to think of ourselves as intelligent, knowledgeable, rational, and not the least bit superstitious. Nothing crushes that myth to dust more thoroughly than our public and private responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since late March, Americans all across the country have cowered in their homes. We closed our schools and churches and brought the most active and vibrant economy in our lifetimes to a screeching halt. We’ve been coerced into disguising ourselves like bandits in an old western movie ostensibly for health and safety reasons. But what if the hysteria is based upon less-than-credible scientific information from medical professionals? In that case, we’ve been duped by modern-day alchemists for some nefarious purpose.

Reliable information is not difficult to find, but today, it must be sought out by the intellectually curious public. Local and national news media will not report the fact that generally, COVID-19 is not significantly more contagious or lethal than most other seasonal influenza outbreaks that affect populations in temperate climates like Virginia’s.

According to CDC figures (which are likely be overinflated for a variety of reasons) of the “confirmed cases” of coronavirus, over 99 percent of people infected recover completely. And while it is always prudent to take precautions such as frequent hand-washing and avoiding people who are coughing and sneezing, face mask mandates offer false confidence for specious purposes.

In a report by Dr. Denis G. Rancourt, the facts about the efficacy of face masks become immediately apparent. Masks Don’t Work. Dr. Rancourt cites seven scientific sources involving numerous research studies that contradict the recommendations promulgated by the CDC for all Americans to hide behind face masks to protect against exposure to COVID-19. In fact, even the highly recommended N95 respirators are not effective against airborne viruses.

The Rancourt report is scientific confirmation of common sense. To anyone with even the most rudimentary grasp of physics or medicine, the wearing of a face mask as protection from a virus is ludicrous. The simple fact is that a porous cloth or paper mask—even one that is perfected fitted and consistently worn—cannot filter out of the air, microbes that are smaller than the space between the fibers and that can remain suspended for hours. Wearing a face covering to guard against an airborne virus is akin to using chicken wire as a defense against mosquitos.

Nevertheless, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) persists in running television ads that profess, “Everyone must do their part to keep it safe.” Whenever facts and reason are not the justification for a social policy, then political engineering must certainly be assumed.

Even worse than their utter uselessness, face masks can actually cause harm. Unclean masks worn for several hours of the day can cultivate staph infections that may infect the lungs and reduce the wearer’s resistance to other diseases. But the most long-lasting social consequences may prove to be far more severe.

Dr. Molly O’Dell is wrong. While it may be socially acceptable, wearing a mask is neither smart nor compassionate. Provoking irrational fear and baseless suspicion is never kind or compassionate, especially when based upon a fallacy.

It is unreasonable to believe that Dr. O’Dell and the medical community are unaware of the fact that face masks cannot possibly filter out airborne viruses. Therefore, there must be another reason for promoting the use of masks and none of the choices are good ones.

Mark Twain once said, “There are lies, damned lies, and then, there are statistics.” The same statistics can be presented to elicit or assuage fear; to inform as well as deceive. If, out of an abundance of caution, the fearful and superstitious choose to don face masks, that it certainly their right. But medical professionals and government officials who promote or mandate them when their inefficacy is well established and clearly apparent, are morally reprehensible.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s public education system continues to fail another generation. Our state government betrays its citizens, refuses to enforce our laws, and actively promotes sin and death. The integrity of our election process is collapsing under the weight of multiple devious schemes to undermine its validity. Virginia has real and significant problems. But COVID-19 is not one of them.

Timothy P. Buchanan