A better way to vote

Christopher Burns paints an unnecessarily negative picture of ranked-choice voting in a July 20 BDN article. It is actually very easy to use (Portland has already done so in mayoral elections), and with a statewide effort to educate people, there should be very few problems.

One way of thinking about ranked-choice voting is that you’re voting for candidates you can live with. You can vote for one — just as you do now — or more or all candidates, ranked in your order of preference. My favorite aspect of ranked-choice voting is that it allows you to vote for the person you really, really like — even if she or he is unlikely to win — without fearing it will help elect someone you really dislike. So if you love, say, Bob, and like Alice pretty well and could even live with Ted or Carol, you could rank them as 1, 2, 3 and 4. But you wouldn’t rank the rest of the candidates at all if you don’t like them at all.

And though ranked-choice voting doesn’t guarantee that the winner will have a majority of all votes, it still is a much better approximation of what voters want than everyone having just one vote. We would at least end up with the candidate that the highest number of people find acceptable — all without the expense of staging a runoff election.

To my mind, it is also a plus that ranked-choice voting encourages more information gathering on the candidates, as an informed voter surely makes better selections. You might even end up more engaged in the community as a result.

Nancy O’Hagan


Energy overhaul needed

With all due respect for Darren Fishell’s recent articles on solar power, he could have raised his sights to the much larger stakes we’re facing.

The entire world needs to stop burning fossil fuel for energy. The issues he addresses are the “tip of an iceberg” — a phrase only decades away from becoming an archaism, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.

To achieve that worldwide aim will require a multidecade policy perspective, not an easy frame of mind to acquire or employ. It will require a larger view, empathy and perhaps a more expansive sense of community than we may be used to.

Last I looked, Maine is still part of “the entire world.”

The most current data show that Maine spends $6 billion per year for natural gas, heating oil and gasoline. Excepting only the local retail markup, every penny of that leaves the state.

Maine steps taken to increase and decentralize the generation of electrical energy from renewable sources locally — wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tides, etc. — will get us to the goal of keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

The $6 billion per year saved will go a long way to compensate for the new infrastructure costs and the dislocations associated with the globe-saving changes we must all shoulder together.

“There are Teslas, wind and tidal turbines, and solar panels in our kids and grandkids futures,” and we need to be smart as well as magnanimous about how fast and how thoroughly we midwife the revolution.

Hendrik Gideonse


Where is the outrage about Trump?

Looking back on the Republican convention and at the ongoing Donald Trump campaign, I continue to be appalled by his rank nationalism and bullying. However, I am even more appalled by the implicit endorsement of his behavior and beliefs — if he actually has any — by Republican Party leaders.

In my opinion, they should be repulsed by the repetitive fifth-grade cartoonish epithets and broad condemnation of groups of people based on their gender, what they look like, where they are from, their religion or any of his other broad-brush “us vs. them” targeting. Unfortunately, there are very few elected Republican leaders (past or present) who have had the personal integrity to speak out strongly against a man running for president who as a “champion of the common man” has stiffed that same common man in six bankruptcies, won’t release his tax returns and who has yet to put forth a single plan for how he will attempt to achieve his odious goals.

This is not a common presidential candidate, nor a candidate who is in any way deserving of the office he seeks. I could go on at length about his failings, both as a human being and as a potential leader of the free world, but you get the message. The bottom line is that I am concerned that Susan Collins is not one of those speaking out against this situation and would like to understand why that is the case.

Donald Holmes


Litter ‘winners’

After walking my daily route along Route 1 for several years, I can now announce my “unofficial” survey results for 1st place litter “honors”: Beer — Budweiser; soda — Coke; cigarettes — Marlboro; other — Oakhurst milk products.

Litter bugs, keep it up; you’re supplementing my Social Security benefit.

Chuck Hodge


Voting improvement

How many times have you picked up the pencil in the voting booth and marked your choice for the “lesser of two evils”? For me, it’s been too many. That’s why I am supporting ranked-choice voting, a common-sense reform that empowers voters to restore majority rule. I want to feel confident that my vote is not wasted.

Mainers have a history of nominees winning with well under 50 percent of vote. In fact, since 1974, nine of the last 11 governors have been elected without a majority vote. Ranked-choice voting would effectively prevent such lopsided, undemocratic results. I see ranked-choice voting as a win-win proposition.

If my first choice candidate can’t win, I know my thoughtful alternative choices will be reflected in the final count. I am encouraged by the success of ranked-choice voting in Portland. Beginning in 2011, with a field of 15 mayoral candidates, the city had a record high turnout in an off-year election, positive results that show the merits of ranked-choice voting.

Maine has a long tradition of advocacy for fair and transparent elections and voter engagement. In November, we have a chance to support a landmark initiative for ranked-choice voting. I urge readers to become informed and proactive about this important issue. Learn more from the League of Women Voters of Maine at lwvme.org.

Gail Maynard