I’m proud to live in a state where the current voting laws encourage voter turnout. That’s why I’m dismayed when bills such as L.D. 1376 and L.D. 199, which will restrict Mainers’ voting rights, are introduced in Augusta.

Citizens should be alarmed when we see threats to our democracy. With last week’s special elections in South Portland, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, we should be reminded how crucial every single vote is!

I work alongside your friendly neighborhood white-haired ladies on Election Day as a deputy clerk. I’ve seen countless numbers of eligible voters pacing awkwardly into the polling place asking what they need to do in order to cast their crucial vote.

The registrars and clerks follow a protocol that maintains accuracy, as well as efficiency. When this process is finished, that brand-new voter emerges from the voting booth and slides their ballot into the machine. What a proud moment for all of us!

Our present statutes encourage voter participation. They provide for an accountable and user-friendly process that allows eligible Mainers to vote even if they have recently moved, they don’t have a valid Maine driver’s license, or they are simply unfamiliar with the procedure for registration and voting in general.

The obvious question is: Why would we want to disenfranchise voters? Are we prepared to tell marginalized citizens to jump through hoops in order to exercise a basic American right? I say no. I believe that our system should strive to include as many Mainers as possible.

These bills — L.D. 1376 and 199 — would effectively create obstacles to eligible Maine voters, who depend on an open and accessible democracy. I hope the Legislature does the right thing and votes them down.

Carlin Whitehouse

Portland

Senators should rethink stance on lead protections

It is shortsighted of Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to oppose consumer protections regarding renovations of old homes with lead paint.

Maine is a place where hundreds of children contract lead poisoning each year (and numerous other cases go unreported because of blind spots in screening systems for the disease). Renovations are a significant contributor to lead poisoning incidents.

Maine has more than its fair share of lead poisoning incidents because almost 80 percent of Maine homes are old enough to contain lead paint.

Recent studies show that the average American child with lead poisoning loses 5 IQ points because of the exposure, so I would hope that the sensible senators would reconsider their mistaken positions.

The risk to so many Mainers and their families should outweigh the interests of the construction lobby.

Kent Ackley

Shapleigh

Previous Blaine House pet took interesting route north

In the April 18 paper, there was an interesting article (“Blaine House blog all paws and effect”), with a picture of Paula Benoit, the Blaine House director, and a small dog named Baxter that apparently lives in the Blaine House and belongs to Gov. Paul LePage’s daughter, Lauren.

The article mentioned that other animals have resided there, including a squirrel. This caught my eye.

Back a few years ago, when Gov. Ken Curtis and his wife, Polly, lived at the Blaine House, I was tasked with delivering a parrot to the Blaine House.

It was a gift from the governor of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte, where Maine Maritime Academy’s training vessel had recently visited with Gov. Curtis on board, making an official visit in connection with the Habitat for Humanity program.

Gov. Curtis presented the governor of Rio Grande do Norte with the keys to a two-bedroom modular home that the ship was carrying onboard and that the midshipmen and ship’s crew would build from the ground up during the five days the ship was in port. (Rio Grande do Norte was Maine’s sister state in South America.)

I am not sure how long the parrot lived in the Blaine House, but there is an interesting side story concerning what took place on board the training vessel on the way back to Castine.

Reputedly, the crew that were caring for the bird spent many hours trying to teach the parrot how to say, “I am a Republican”! (Please be advised that the ship did receive regulatory clearance to bring the parrot into the United States.)

Capt. Bill Brennan

Commandant of Midshipmen (Emeritus), Maine Maritime Academy

Falmouth

Paper straining to develop case against good governor

So now, is Bill Nemitz on the editorial staff, or what? Gov. Paul LePage “recklessly established a culture of … ‘straight talk,’” you say (Our View, “Gov. LePage acts like he’s in over his head,” May 1)? What, you prefer more obfuscation?

I don’t know where the word “reckless” comes from, but it seems that’s how he campaigned, and he got the most votes, though apparently not those of the majority of your editorial board.

Will you leave the amateur psychology to others after your amateurish psychological hypothesis? I could only wish.

His skill set doesn’t match the job? Seems every rock that he and his group of novices — including the likes of Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, or interim Maine Turnpike Authority Executive Director Peter Mills — turn over sends a lot of decades-old cockroaches scurrying.

Your frustration that your recommendations for “business as usual” are — thankfully — being ignored is obvious to everyone. Give it up already.

Tom Zimmerman

Portland