Maine leads on voting rights

We are lucky in Maine. In a state that is both blue and red, we have a long history of voting with open and accessible systems and virtually no fraud. We have voter turnout that is among the highest in the nation. We have  no-excuse absentee voting, and use  signature matching to process ballots. We have same-day voter registration. In 2020 many of us used drop boxes and early in-person voting.The conservative Heritage Foundation  identified two cases of voter fraud in Maine In the past 42 years. In other words, we do everything the  hundreds of Republican voting laws are trying to limit. And we have done it well.

But that does not mean that we should stay on the sidelines in the move to nationalize basic voting laws. We must support the tenets of For the People Act and the  John Lewis voting bills. This would standardize laws that support all voters’ ability to vote without fear, restraint or limitations. Online voter registration would make accessing voting easier for many. We must insist conflicts in voting processes be adjudicated by non-partisan election officials. Election funding needs to be transparent. And no one should ever lose the right to vote.

The Texas Democratic legislators are demonstrating how to take a stand. We must join them.  We must insist that voting laws support all voters’ ability to vote. People should write and call their Congress people, write letters to the editor, talk to their neighbors, friends and family. Make some noise. This is about how we vote. Nothing in our democracy is more important.

Jo Trafford

Portland

Public lands belong to Maine people

On behalf of thousands of grassroots activist members of Say NO to NECEC, I would like to thank the state senators and representatives who voted in support of the Joint Resolution expressing the sense of the Legislature regarding the use of public land leased by the state.

Regardless of one’s stance on the CMP corridor, we must remember that Maine Public Lands belong to the people of Maine, and that the Constitution was amended in 1993 to require a 2/3 legislative approval for any lease that would cause substantial alteration to public lands. To date, the required vote on CMP’s 33-acre lease in the West Forks for installation of a high-impact transmission line has not occurred.

Cumberland County Superior Court’s Justice Michaela Murphy expressed concern of this mis-step in the process during a recent hearing on CMP’s lease. Murphy said, “That is certainly the concern of the court, because of recognition that I think the court has made that the legislature is supposed to be a constitutional partner and have the final say in these lands… but it seems that there was a concerted effort to keep the Legislature in the dark, both times.”

The Legislature wasn’t given the opportunity by the Bureau of Parks and Lands to vote on behalf of Maine citizens on the CMP lease. There are large concerns about the substantial alteration that would occur with a clear cut through public lands.

Mainers still have a chance to vote YES to stop the CMP corridor this November to preserve their public lands and way of life.

Sandi Howard

Director

Say NO to NECEC

No CMP Corridor

Caratunk

Government getting it done

Government can do good things for us, and here are some examples: At the federal level, the vaccination campaign resulted in a 90 percent drop in U.S. COVID-19 deaths since January (contributing to the highest projected economic growth in four decades) and starting in mid-July, 230,000 families in Maine will receive monthly federal Child Tax Credit payments, bringing them critical assistance while bolstering our local economy and bringing thousands of children out of poverty.

Our state government in Augusta recently passed a budget (notably, with overwhelming bipartisan support), that provides free school breakfasts and lunches to all Maine students, expands access to preventive dental care to 217,000 Mainers and raises the wages of hardworking direct care workers to 125 percent of the minimum wage.

This budget carries out the state’s commitment to towns and municipalities by fully investing in revenue sharing (which will bring critical property tax relief). It also permanently expands the property tax fairness credit and increases state funding for the Homestead Exemption program. And for the first time ever, it  finally fulfills the state’s commitment to Maine schools, municipalities and teachers by funding 55 percent of K-12 public education costs (again, reducing property taxes).

Lastly, the state budget helps to address the opioid crisis by funding community substance use disorder treatment options and providing a rate increase for recovery services.

Bob Lodato

Charleston