To the Editor
Today, all citizens rely on the USPS, but rural residents rely on it even more than urbanites. The postal service delivers to many rural addresses FedEx and UPS will not deliver to because these addresses are too far from their established routes.
In rural Knox County, where I live, my neighbors and I rely on the postal service to deliver our mail six days a week. We are also able to purchase stamps, mail letters, and mail small parcels from our own mailboxes. During this 2020 Pandemic, many of us rely on the postmistress to also deliver packages from Internet purchases, shipped grocery orders, pension and paychecks, and medical prescriptions. Many of us bank and pay our bills through the mail service as well. These are important services that reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus at this time.
The current, newly appointed Postmaster General, as I have read in several media outlets, is now making significant changes in the USPS which will seriously slow both the processing and delivery of mail throughout the nation and in rural areas like Knox County in particular. These deliberate delays and the undermining of one of our country’s most vital services during a pandemic are hard to understand. Especially when rural areas, including Knox County, are disproportionately elderly. It could end up as voter suppression.
I have worked at the polls in Knox County for several years. All poll workers have always voted early or voted by absentee ballot prior to Election Day. This year, early voting and absentee voting will permit citizens to avoid long lines and unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. Now, early voting and absentee voting are more important than ever.
Once ballots are requested from the Knox County Board of Elections, they will be mailed from the BOE on October 6. There are only 19 business days between October 6 and November 3. Mail in my area of the county is processed through Mansfield, most of the county’s mail is processed through Columbus. It is essential to prepare to vote early in person or by absentee ballot.
This is an issue that should be of concern to all Knox County voting citizens who wish to remain safe during this pandemic. Request your absentee ballot today to ensure early receipt of the ballot, vote immediately, and mail the ballot back to the county board of elections immediately after you fill it out. Try to mail it before October 15, if it is possible. If this is impossible, early voting begins Oct. 6.
Dr. Patricia Burdette