Timing is everything. 

Today, during the upcoming historic presidential election, that phrase rings true. 

I wrote here last week about the process of getting an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 General Election. Requests for absentee ballots have increased because people prefer to vote via mail and not at a precinct due to the coronavirus. Voting by mail is safer for people who are immunocompromised and/or elderly. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a directive that having concerns about Covid-19 is an acceptable reason to request an absentee ballot. Even President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, have requested absentee ballots from the state of Florida. 

In light of all of the news regarding President Trump’s sabotaging the Post Office in order to slow down absentee votes from arriving at the county clerk’s offices in time to be counted, I had a reader request phone numbers of our congressmen and senators so that constituents could call their offices and demand that the mail not be slowed down. 

The numbers are printed at the end of this column and we hope that you will use them to voice your concerns. I’ve only included their phone numbers and not their addresses, as I thought if you wrote them a letter it might not arrive in time. 

This opinion column is not about our local service. Our local postal workers have always gone above and beyond to help us. When newspapers are not delivered on time, our friends at the Huntsville Post Office are easy to work with and help us solve the problems that might exist. And, believe me, when The Madison County Record is delivered late, we get a lot of phone calls, which shows that people want and need their mail. We thank the Huntsville postal employees for their time, professionalism and service. 

The problems with the postal service and its delivery are not caused by local employees. Rather, the changes that have been made to slow the mail are taking place nationally, implemented by the Trump Administration. 

To continue to offer effective service, the post office is in need of additional federal funding, something of which the president is not supportive. President Trump has called the post office “a joke.” He stated last week that the post office needed “that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”

Trump appointed Louis DeJoy, a financial supporter of his campaign and a person with no postal experience, as Postmaster General in May. Since that time, mail sorting machines have been dismantled and collections boxes have been removed from the streets, all in the name of “efficiency” and trying to “modernize” postal service. Mail across the nation is slowing down and deliveries are taking longer. 

The timing and purpose of this could not be more evident: voter suppression. President Trump and his crony, DeJoy, are acting to make it harder for you to get your vote counted. As I wrote last week, the process of an obtaining an absentee ballot takes time – you request an application, which is sent to you via the mail. You fill out the application and send it back, via the mail. The county clerk sends you a ballot, via the mail. You fill out that ballot and send it in, via the mail. 

All of that takes time.

People in counties with a lack of reliable broadband will pay the price for these antics, a county such as this one. This week, in a story in our Back to School special section, we reported that between 30 to 50 percent of the students at Huntsville School District lack reliable Internet. 

That means those households require the mail to receive and pay bills. People need it to get medical prescriptions. Seniors need the mail to get social security checks. 

Now more than ever, during this pandemic, people are using the mail. 

Next week, DeJoy will testify before the House Oversight Committee. The House is considering a bill that would provide emergency funding to the postal service and possibly reverse changes made by DeJoy since May.

The bill could also delay policy changes until the end of the pandemic. 

Contact Congressmen Bruce Westerman’s office at the following numbers: Washington, D.C., office, 202-225-3772; El Dorado office, 870-864-8946; Hot Springs office, 501-609-9796; Ozark office at 479-667-0075; or his Pine Bluff office at 870-536-8178. 

Contact Congressman Steve Womack at his Washington, D.C., office at 202-225-4301; his Rogers office at 479-464-0446; his Harrison office at 870-741-6900 or his Fort Smith office at 479-424-1146. 

Contact Sen. John Boozman at his Washington, D.C., bureau at 202-224-4843; Little Rock office at 501-372-7153; Fort Smith office at 479-573-0189; Lowell at 479-725-0400; Jonesboro office at 870-268-6925; Mountain Home office at 870-424-0129; El Dorado office at 870-863-4641 or his Stuttgart office at 870-672-6941. 

Contact Sen. Tom Cotton at his Washington, D.C., office at 202-224-2353; his Springdale office at 479-751-0879; his Jonesboro office at 870-933-6223 or his El Dorado office at 870-864-8582. 

Ellen Kreth is the publisher of The Record. You may email her at ekreth@mcrecordonline.com