The hullabaloo about The U.S. Postal Service failing to live up to its reputation of delivering mail within a three-day window appears, at least to me, to be overblown.

Just on a personal note, in September, I “snail” mailed a birthday card to our son. Three days later, he emailed a thank you.

Recently, I received a thinking-of-you card from a former Times coworker/friend. She mailed it September 28. It went from Bendersville to Harrisburg, yet there it was in my mailbox, north of New Chester, just three days later.

On October 3, I received my pre-requested mail-in ballot from the Adams County Election Office. It was postmarked October 1.

Granted, these are anecdotal experiences and granted, as we draw closer to the General Election date, it is entirely possible that the USPS will be inundated with mail-in ballots. Of course, the Postal Service is accustomed to gearing up for monumental work loads. Consider the Christmas holiday crunch of cards and presents.

If you plan to vote by mail, it does appear that – at least at the moment – the Postal Service, here in Pennsylvania, is on top of its game.

Now, I am stating the obvious, here!

Fill in your mail-in ballot and get it in the mail ASAP!

Be sure to use either a blue or black ink pen.

Yes, I marked my ballot carefully, placed it in the plain envelope that keeps my vote selections secret. (As you have probably heard, the plain envelope is critical. There is the possibility that “naked” ballots – ones without that plain envelope – will not be counted.)

Next, slip the plain envelope containing your ballot into the self-addressed, stamped envelope. Fill in the blanks on the outer envelope. Don’t miss your signature and the current date. (DO NOT make the err of putting in your date of birth.) Also, since signatures are often illegible, there is a spot to print your name. From there you can drop your ballot in your mailbox. That’s what I did. However, since not all first class mail appears to be postmarked, you probably should take the extra time and effort to mail it at a Post Office. Be sure to ask the Post Office to postmark it!

(Concerns about a free and fair election have dogged this year’s General Election. Personally, I am more concerned about voter suppression than I am about voters stuffing ballot boxes with fraudulent ballots.)

However, in the event that you cannot shake the fear that your ballot might not make it in time via the U.S. mail, you can take your ballot directly to the Adams County Courthouse, 117 Baltimore St., Gettysburg. A ballot drop box in the Courthouse lobby is accessible Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

(Be aware that state law requires each mail-in ballot be returned by the individual who cast the vote.)

I “snail” mailed my ballot, late afternoon, on October 5. By early afternoon of October 7, I had an emailed confirmation from the county election office saying my ballot had arrived in a timely fashion and would be counted.

Needless to say, I was both relieved and impressed.

If you decide to vote by mail, you still have time to request a mail-in ballot. Actually, the final day to get your request in is Tuesday, October 27. Again, obviously, it seems prudent to get your ballot request in forthwith.

For more information on voting, plus help requesting mail-in ballots, go to: https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Mail-and-Absentee-Ballot.aspx

Note: Bradford County residents should go to: https://www.bradfordelections.com/

While I was concerned about getting my vote in and having it counted, and even though I am relieved to have that done, it does not feel as though I have really voted. I miss going to the polls and seeing neighbors and chatting with the always reliable poll workers. I miss commenting on the weather, which almost always seems dreary and rainy. At least, that’s my memory. Still since I am in the middle of having cataract surgery which requires COVID-testing and then strict quarantining, going to the polls could be a problem.

Whether you’re voting by mail or voting in person, do vote regardless of what it takes to do so!

Unfortunately, this year’s election highlighted an issue that impacts our executive branch.

Back in 1913, with the passage of the 16th Amendment, the federal income tax – as we know it today – was put into effect.

Then – and for decades to follow – tax return transparency was ignored. In fact, presidents tended to be anything but transparent. They held their tax returns close to their vests.

However, in the early 1970s, reports – leaked to the press – questioned Richard Nixon’s income tax records. That prompted the President to publicly release his returns.

According to Investopedia, “Media reports suggested that Nixon paid only $792 in federal income tax in 1970 and $878 in 1971, even though he earned more than $200,000 in each of those years. In order to allay public concerns, Nixon subsequently released his tax returns for every year between 1969, when he entered office, and 1972. The incident led to his infamous remark to the press pool: ‘People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook.’” -Investopedia, Oct. 2.

Nixon set a precedent!

Presidents from Jimmy Carter through Barack Obama all released their tax returns. In fact, the majority of candidates who ran for the presidency, since the mid-1970s, have released their forms, as well.

Actually, I foolishly thought that presidential candidates were required by law to release their returns.

No, it’s just been an assumed agreed. It is merely a tradition that most politicians graciously abide by. It is not law! Although, it should be!

Therefore, once the election is over and all the ballots are finally counted – which could take extra time due to all the mail-in ballots and the increased number of voters – we need to establish a tax-return requirement.

Any candidate who refuses to release his/her tax returns should not be allowed to run for the office of president or vice-president.

Is it irrational to assume that politicians who refuse to publicly release their tax returns must be hiding something? If that is the case, there must be a problem! Could cheating be the issue? How can we trust someone who is willing to cheat? After all, it is the rest of us – who would never consider for a moment fudging on our income tax returns – who are the victims of the cheater?

Plus, this reaches beyond short changing the IRS. Since our economic scene is now fully international, we need – for national security’s sake – to know if a potential leader has vested interests in other nation’s or is perhaps indebted to other agencies around the world.

Additionally, anyone who aspires to be our nation’s leader should willingly release his/her medical records. We need to be certain that our nation’s leader can handle the job. So, if the potential leader is unwilling to provide medical records, then that individual should not be permitted to run for the office.

Thus, we need to urge Congress to investigate the possibility of requiring candidates – particularly for the presidency – to submit their tax returns and their medical records.

If by some quirk, Congress happens to enact a tax return requirement law, quickly, that law cannot go into effect until the presidential election of 2024.

What a paradox that President Nixon, who claimed he was not a crook, would later resign under the cloud of the politically motivated Watergate break-in of a Democratic office.

It is also a paradox, that despite the inauspicious end to his political career, Nixon was quite right! We the people need to know about our leaders – whether they are healthy enough to endure the grueling hours and arduous tasks; and whether they are trustworthy.

Those two qualities are vital to the welfare and future of our nation!

Of the two, trustworthiness is the most critical!

Consider that of the three candidates vying for the presidency on the 2020 ballot only one has not made his tax returns public. Green Party candidate — yes, there is a candidate – Howie Hawkins, and Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden have both released their tax returns.

Only one candidate has flatly refused to release returns. That candidate says it’s because the IRS is auditing his returns. However, there is no law against releasing returns that are under audit.

Contemplate that as you vote!

Pat Nevada, whose opinions are her own, lives near Gettysburg.