Convenient elections

As a member of the League of Women Voters of Maine, I thank Rep. John Schneck, D-Bangor, for his June 3 OpEd. The League shares the view that Maine voters should have the opportunity to amend the Constitution to permit true early voting in communities that wish it.

Maine voters wishing to vote before Election Day actually cast absentee ballots. Counting absentee ballots is much more labor-intensive than counting those cast on Election Day. In most communities, these votes are counted as voters feed them into optical scanners.

Under the law, town clerks cannot begin counting absentee ballots until the day prior to the election. This cumbersome process involves multiple steps requiring either extra staff or placing additional burdens on existing staff. This choke point increases the risk of error.

The secretary of state’s office conducted pilot studies of early voting in 2007 and 2009 in 11 communities. The public response was almost universally positive. Voters appreciated the ability to cast their ballots in the normal manner before Election Day.

During the next Maine Legislature, the constitutional resolve described by Schneck will be reintroduced. The League hopes that this time, two-thirds of the House and the Senate will vote for the resolve and send it to the voters the following November. This is neither a Democratic nor a Republican issue; it is an issue of convenient, smooth, error-free elections.

Maria Kreilkamp


Collins inspiration

On Friday, May 9, I attended the most amazing event. The Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce hosted the first of three women’s luncheons at the Spectacular Event Center. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was the speaker, and it was, without a doubt, one of the best events I have ever attended.

Collins, along with moderator Deb Neuman, rocked the house while discussing a wide range of topics from Homeland Security to education to health care. The senator shared with us the things that motivate her and had some wonderful insight into how things work (and don’t work) in Washington.

As I looked around the room at the more than 250 business leaders from greater Bangor who were there to listen, learn and, yes, share a laugh, I was reminded that I have long admired the senator for her work ethic and bipartisan approach. I appreciate the fact that she has gone to work every day, just like most women do, to get the job done and do it well.

I know it’s popular to never say anything positive about a politician, and I am sure to hear from some of those naysayers, but I want to thank Karen Cole and the chamber for giving us an opportunity to get to know Collins better. She is an inspiration to me.

Diane Nelson


Earlier the better

Eliot Cutler is asking for earlier debates, and I agree. The candidates should debate early and often over the next few months. It would provide voters not only the opportunity to hear each candidate’s proposal on resolving real Maine issues but also the chance to view how the candidates handle themselves during these debates. That to me says a lot about the candidate.

Debates can be a very useful tool for voters to help them decide who should be the next governor of the state of Maine.

James Duplessis


Protect parks

Many of the ideas in the June 7 BDN editorial are based on glaring and fundamental misinterpretations of Question 1, originating from the city’s legal team — the same team that lost a unanimous decision by the Maine Supreme Court when it tried to stop Question 1 from being placed on the ballot.

Let’s be clear: Question 1 in no way makes it harder to hold concerts and in no way makes it harder to build ballfields or playgrounds in the already developed areas of the parks. This is made explicit in the ordinance, which is posted at The ordinance expressly permits “recreational structures, outdoor restaurant seating, outdoor markets, [and] outdoor performance spaces.”

To suggest otherwise is thoroughly misleading. University of Southern Maine professor Orlando Delogu (former city councilor and planning board chairman) has called claims such as this by the city “so misleading as to shock the conscience.”

We understand that there are different views on Congress Square Park. Let’s have that discussion. But let’s not give credit to baseless arguments about how Question 1 would complicate the day-to-day use of our parks.

Bree LaCasse

Director, Protect Portland Parks


Climate action

President Barack Obama just announced an important plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. His climate action plan merits our support. Industry has long touted “clean coal.” It is time to deliver.

Power plants release 40 percent of the nation’s carbon pollution. Big players are the more than 500 coal-fired power plants scattered across states upwind of Maine. Over the years, I have been one of many Mainers fighting for more controls over pollutants like mercury, arsenic and soot released from upwind smokestacks. But up until now, nothing limited the spewing of carbon pollution. Coal plants today are the largest domestic source of carbon dioxide equaling emissions from all modes of transportation combined.

The president’s new standards will, for the first time, start to bend the curve on growing climate change impacts such as sea level rise and extreme weather. For us, the plan also will further cut soot and smog, providing new relief from asthma to Maine children and from premature deaths to older Mainers.

Maine already gets most of our electric power from sources other than coal. Our economy can only benefit from investment in energy efficiency and other innovation to power America with new clean energy.

The effort represents a step toward a future that is, as the president says, “cleaner, more prosperous, and full of good jobs — a future where we can look our kids in the eye and tell them we did our part to leave them a safer, more stable world.”

Jon Hinck