Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

Communities need more help

My community, so far, has been spared the worst of the public health crisis caused by COVID-19. Unfortunately, the economic damage done by the virus is here, and we need help.

Local and state government budgets are in serious crisis, even as the demand for new resources to safely open schools in the fall grows. Families, many of whom were already struggling with poverty, are falling further behind as their jobs have either gone away or their hours have been reduced.

Our hospital is also facing increased pressure, and we need more federal support for health care, in general.

As Congress and the president consider a new economic recovery bill, it’s critical that it includes significant funding for state and municipal governments of at least $500 billion. Otherwise, the economic damage will continue to trickle down into schools.

It’s also important that anti-poverty programs, such as TANF and SNAP, be expanded to help the tens of thousands of families that have lost their jobs survive. And we need to significantly expand funding for Medicaid to ensure people have access to health care and that our hospitals survive.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is in a strong position to help in the Senate. It’s my hope that she will strongly advocate for a recovery bill that puts Maine people first and that will help our communities rebound from the economic loss caused by COVID-19.

Michealene Spencer

Baileyville

Maine’s independence

Mainers have a proud tradition of electing independent candidates to public office. Two of our last seven governors were independents. Angus King is one of only two independents in the U.S. Senate. Maine voters who are registered with a third party or have no party affiliation have outnumbered those registered with either the Democrats or Republicans. So why is independent candidate Lisa Savage not being included when Susan Collins and Sara Gideon go back and forth about organizing head-to-head debates?

Historically, the biggest argument against independents is that they shift elections by taking votes away from Republicans or Democrats. The people of Maine have voted twice in favor of ranked-choice voting that eliminates this “vote-splitting” effect. We’ve demanded elections with more voices and more choices, and we deserve to hear from all the candidates on the ballot, especially for such an important race.

Collins and Gideon have already raised more than $40 million for this race. That’s enough to run my hometown of Eustis for 27 years. They seem to be trying to buy this election instead of winning it with leadership and good ideas. Big money should not be allowed to silence independent candidates.

This November, my first choice vote will go to the candidate with the best ideas and vision for our state. I look forward to hearing from all the candidates so I can make an informed decision. I encourage you to take a look at independent candidates like Lisa Savage before placing your vote in November.

Christopher Cayer

Eustis

Educating voters

It would be enormously helpful — since President Donald Trump is telling the country that the elections, if mail in votes are largely encouraged, will be rife with fraud — if some simple steps can be taken to educate the populace to the steps they must take to make sure their votes count.

Simple things like confirming that the election officials have the proper address. If there’s been a name change, be sure the proper name and address is clarified. If it’s been several years since you voted, make sure your name and registration has not been purged from the rolls of registered voters. That will happen if you don’t vote for a number of years.

For example if you normally vote in the presidential election and not necessarily in the midterms, but didn’t in 2016 because you didn’t care for the candidates, you may have been purged.

People shouldn’t wait until Election Day to discover that they’ve been purged from the voter registration ranks. We need to begin now to be sure it is all systems go in order to vote in the November election. Voting by mail does not encourage fraud.

Pat Dempsey

Orrington