Sen. Susan Collins waves at a mail truck passing by while visiting the U.S. Postal Service's Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Hampden in May. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

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The postal service is something many people take for granted. We may not give much thought to the 55-cent bargain, called a stamp, that will get a birthday card or letter across the country in a couple days. We might complain when our mailbox is filled with bills and advertisements. Amazon relies on the postal service to get its packages to our doors, often within a day. For some, the postal service is a lifeline, delivering medications that sustain some lives and correspondence that lift spirits.

But, even if we didn’t fully appreciate the postal service, we expect it to keep delivering. And, that’s where Congress must step in to ensure the agency can continue to deliver, especially ballots for the Nov. 3 election.

It is shocking, in 2020, to see the U.S. Postal Service, which was created before America became a nation, being further hobbled by a U.S. president, mainly to fulfill his own political goals.

The battle over the postal service, which has long faced financial challenges, has become a fight over voting. President Donald Trump has acknowledged that he is opposing much-needed support for the Postal Service to make it harder for Americans to vote by mail, which is likely to remain popular this year as many voters seek safer ways to vote than going to a polling place during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,” Trump said about ongoing congressional debate about funding for the postal service during an interview on the Fox Business Network on Thursday. “That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”

Some Republicans, including Trump, fear that higher voter turnout will favor Democratic candidates and they have undertaken numerous efforts, in Maine and across the country, to make it harder to vote.

Trump has adamantly — and erroneously — argued that mail-in voting is rife with fraud, although fraud rates among the tens of millions of mail-in ballots each election year are “infinitesimally small,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

The president voted by mail in Florida’s primary earlier this year.

Trump’s threats against the postal service and mail-in voting is not just idle talk.

The postal service, headed by Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor, is already slowing mail delivery in some parts of the country. Deliveries of prescription medications, including to veterans, have been delayed across the country.

Earlier this month, 80,000 pieces of mail were delayed in southern Maine because of new overtime rules. The letters were sorted and ready to be loaded onto a truck. But, rather than wait 10 minutes, the truck left without them, according to a postal service union president.

The postal service in July sent a letter to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap saying that absentee ballots should be mailed at least 15 days prior to the Nov. 3 election in order to arrive in time to be counted. Forty-six states received such warnings.

This assault on the postal service — and American’s right to vote — has prompted action in Congress, which is in recess despite failing to come to agreement on a relief package as the coronavirus pandemic continues to plague the United States.

Both House and Senate committees are scheduled to hold hearings with DeJoy this month.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to question the postmaster general on Friday. The House Oversight Committee has scheduled a hearing for Monday.

That’s a good start, but action — and funding — will be needed to ensure that the postal service can deliver mail — including ballots — on time.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...