Some of you remember my father, the late great Champ Ruffin. He died in 1979, so he’s been gone a long time. But his lessons endure. And he taught me a valuable lesson about voting.What was that lesson? It was simple: I must vote. ‘Exercise your right to vote,’ he’d say, ‘because if you don’t, they’ll take it away.’ I think he told me that every time an election day rolled around. By the time I turned eighteen in 1976, I was both sick of hearing that I needed to vote and excited about finally getting to do so. I don’t know who my father meant by ‘they’ when he said if I didn’t vote, they’d take my right to do so away. He wasn’t into conspiracy theories, thankfully (some of you probably are, bless your hearts). I suspect he meant that voting was our way of holding our leaders accountable, and since many of them would rather not be held accountable, they wouldn’t mind taking away our means of holding them accountable. I have taken Champ’s lesson seriously: in the forty-four years that have passed since I became eligible to vote, I have failed to vote in only a couple of elections. And I have never missed voting in a national or statewide election.I’d like to echo my father’s lesson: we all need to vote. The first step in voting is registering to vote. If you’ve never registered, do so now! Go to https://georgia.gov/register-to-vote for information on how to register online or by mail. You can also register at your local election office. The deadline to register to vote in the November 3 General Election is Monday, October 5. If you’ve registered before, you should still be registered. But you can’t be too careful. For example, a recent report from the Palast Investigative Fund, released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, revealed that 198,000 of the 313,000 Georgia voters purged from the Georgia voter roll in 2019 on the basis of their having moved from the address on their voter registration application had in fact not moved and should not have been purged. So it doesn’t hurt to check. You can find out if you’ve been purged from the voter roll at www.savemyvote2020.org. You can also check your voter registration status at the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page (www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do). If you’ve been purged from the voter roll, register now! If you’ve never registered, register now! Once you’ve made sure you’re registered, you need to plan to vote. There are several ways to vote. First, you can vote by mail. If you wish to do so, you must submit an absentee ballot application to your local elections office. The elections office must receive the application by October 30. The elections office must receive your absentee ballot by 7:00 p.m. on election day, November 3. Second, you can vote in person in the weeks leading up to election day. Early voting runs from October 12 through October 30. Saturday voting is available on October 24. Third, you can vote in person on election day, November 3. I hope that you will take Champ Ruffin’s lesson to heart. I hope you will make sure you are registered to vote. I hope you will vote. I don’t know that you’ll lose your right to vote if you don’t use it. But I do know you should use it.