Vote our conscience

Regarding Jim Alciere’s suggestion in his Aug. 16 Bangor Daily News letter to the editor that Sen. Susan Collins take a walk through Arlington National Cemetery before ” throwing away” her vote: The soldiers buried there gave their lives so that we can vote for people that we feel best support us and the way of life we want to live, not so that we can follow the herd.

Susan Taylor

Hampden

Borrow Putin

Given the two utterly contemptible individuals running for our nation’s highest office, it occurred to me that perhaps the Russians might be charitable and loan us Vladimir Putin for four years. Not only could we do worse, it seems inevitable that we will.

Larry Balchen

Jonesport

Fulford for state Senate

Like many people, I am sick of parties and party politics. About one-third of the electorate in Waldo County is independent of party label. Personal relationships mean everything in our communities — who we trust and can depend on — and sometimes this connection is stronger in elections than party label.

But here come the elections, and most of us are weighing whether we want to continue electing officials with the policies of the past in Augusta. Tax cuts for the wealthiest Mainers have strangled town services, underfunded schools and resulted in higher property taxes for homeowners.

Hands-off policy with big business and polluters has left people without adequate wages, has sent jobs overseas, unduly shifted the burden of energy development to ratepayers and fouled our rivers and bay.

All of us — Republicans, Democrats and independents — are picking up the pieces in our towns and families from failed government. It is troubling and confusing when votes by legislators don’t match their public image. We need to look beyond politicians giving awards and speeches to discover the real impacts of policies in Augusta. We need to know who is funding politicians, and who benefits and pays for their votes.

That’s why I’m voting for Democrat Jonathan Fulford for state Senate. His only constituency is the taxpayer. He doesn’t take corporate money. He won’t say one thing in Augusta and another at home.

Meredith Ares

Searsport

Improving ranked-choice voting

I appreciated the BDN printing professor L. Sandy Maisel’s thoughtful Aug. 17 OpEd on ranked-choice voting. I would like to add just one more detail about two perceived problems and a way to resolve them.

One of the uncomfortable parts of the system is that it leaves to a computer and an algorithm the actual processing of the second and additional rounds of results if they are needed. The computer decides — or even the officials decide — that no one received a majority and then the computer counts the second place candidates of those voters who had selected the person receiving the fewest votes.

A way to avoid any possible perception of the effect of malicious software or a hacker’s intervention is to report completely the actual tabulations of every possible choice. With the data available, every interested party will be able to determine the final outcome. In addition, since some voters may not want to include candidates A or D at all, this system will allow such a voter to understand exactly how his or her ballot figured into the result.

With those results, printed in public, anyone could figure the final result with just a pencil and paper.

I think it unlikely many would go to that trouble, but it would make the data available and the process transparent. We still, of course, have to trust that the original vote tallying by computer is accurate and honest, but that is a problem still in search of a solution.

Jim Perkins

Wayne

High fare at the fair

As the annual visit with grandma in New Hampshire occurred during the Bangor State Fair this year, I appeased dismay at the poor timing with the promise of a visit to the Skowhegan State Fair instead.

Much was my dismay at the gate, where we were charged $10 per head and $4 for parking (even though it was 6 p.m.), and we were informed that wristbands for the rides were $17 each. It cost me $27 for each child. Add french fries, lemonades and candy apples, and this single mom was reeling. Needless to say, I sat on a bench while the kids whirled around even though I had been planning to enjoy the rides myself. I had been taken for enough of a ride already.

The coughing sheep with their huge dingleberries on their matted back legs made a lasting impression on me, too. It kind of summed up how I was feeling.

I won’t be missing the Bangor State Fair next year.

Kate Tuck

Bangor

Trump’s ‘pledge’ to reject bigotry

Have you ever seen a political campaign make a pledge to reject hatred and bigotry? Have you ever seen a campaign that thought it was necessary because there might be some doubt? That’s exactly what the Donald Trump campaign is doing after months and months of embracing some of the most divisive and racially charged rhetoric any of us have ever seen.

This is like watching a trapped animal try to escape a snare. It thrashes around randomly, desperately trying to find any way of getting out of its predicament. Trump has been doing exactly the same as he bolts from one topic to another trying to find some traction to distract from his campaign meltdown. He alternately spends time giving speeches cobbled together by aides and screaming insults and conspiracy theories at anyone who will listen. This latest pledge is just another desperate attempt to throw something at the wall to see if it will stick.

But the essential problem of Trump’s campaign remains Trump himself. He has no experience, and every day is a reminder. He has no specific plans, which is why every speech sounds vague and ridiculous as he promises us that we’ll get specifics after the election. And all of that is because he really has no overall ideology other than blatant self promotion.

All of this has become so obvious that even his most rabid supporters now notice. They loved his divisive rhetoric. I wonder if they’ll love this pledge.

Ed Woods

Newport