Count on it: Neither rain nor sleet …

Randy Riley - Contributing columnist

It amazes me that I can put a little, peel-and-stick stamp on an envelope, drop it a mailbox and just a few days later that letter is onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the San Diego Harbor.

In less time than it would take me to drive across country, my granddaughter can receive a letter from her Memaw and Pappy that was mailed from right here in Wilmington. All of this for less than it costs to buy a pack of chewing gum. Amazing.

In 1775, Benjamin Franklin was appointed the Postmaster General for the American Colonies. The following year, he became the first Postmaster General of the United States of America when the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Franklin established several of the concepts for services and quality, many of which are still in use 225 years later. Franklin’s goal was to provide excellent service at a reasonable price. Spending 55 cents to get a letter to my granddaughter in San Diego seems like a bargain. Thanks, Ben.

Technology for moving the mail has certainly changed from the early days of Ol’ Ben Franklin, but their mission hasn’t changed. These words are engraved in stone at the entrance of the New York City Post Office.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

In the past few months, there has been a significant amount of discussion about the reliability of the United States Postal Services (USPS). This past week, I received several birthday cards from family and friends.

Seventy years ago, I’m sure Mom and Dad received several congratulations cards on the birth of their baby boy. In the 70 years since I was born, I do not remember anyone ever mailing me a card or a letter that I did not receive. I don’t remember ever mailing anything to anyone else that wasn’t received by them.

With rare exceptions, the USPS is extremely reliable.

During the Civil War, it was decided that soldiers serving in the Union Army should be allowed to vote by mail. That was our first experience in absentee voting.

It worked. For many decades, absentee voting offered a way for military service members to have their voices and opinions heard. It always worked.

Since then, absentee voting has expanded from state to state. At first, it was restricted to voters who could document that they would be away from home on election day.

Recently, absentee voting has expanded to include anyone who wants to use the process. Although many elected officials have criticized absentee voting or mail-in voting, many of them (including the President) have routinely used the process.

Voting by mail has never been documented to be abused or laden with fraud. According to election experts from state-to-state, across the nation… it works.

Several years ago, I had the honor of working at one of the polls in Clinton County. Since I was the mayor of Wilmington, I was assigned to work the polls in a different community where a replacement poll worker was needed. The other poll workers had all worked together over the years.

They were like a well-oiled machine. They knew exactly what the procedures were to make sure that every vote was counted.

Poll worker training had been conducted weeks earlier by officials from the Clinton County Board of Elections. Information was shared with all the poll workers to assure that we were all on the same page.

I was impressed with the dedication of all the poll workers, election officials and the members of the local Board of Elections. They were adamant that everyone be given the right to vote; that every vote was counted.

If a voter showed up at the polls and they were confused about whether they had already voted or whether they were at the right polls, we were told to “always let them cast a provisional ballot.” After the election, all provisional ballots are checked and double-checked by the board of elections. Their goal is for every vote to be counted, but for no vote to be counted twice.

Whenever the poll workers or the Board of Elections is checking or counting ballots, there are always checks and balances. There is always a Democrat and a Republican involved in the process. No one involved with our local Board of Elections wants to make a mistake in counting our ballots.

They want every voter to be assured that “Your Vote Counts.” I trust our poll workers. I trust the US Postal Service and I certainly trust the Board of Elections to do their job.

Vote. Vote by mail or vote in-person — but be sure to vote.

Randy Riley is a former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.

Randy Riley

Contributing columnist