Not only do our local college students have the ability to vote multiple times (and do), many of them have been foolish enough to boast of their actions.

Due to its easy access, my classroom at Lewiston Middle School was used as a voting site for many years in the 1980s and ’90s. Students from the nearby college would arrive on Election Day and were allowed to register on site and were able to cast a ballot in all elections.

Many of the newly enrolled “voters” were allowed to cast a ballot based on their address, as long as it was within the ward and precinct lines for that area. Having previously voted by absentee ballot from their home state, many of them were foolish enough to boast of their accomplishments as they paraded past my office on exiting the voting place.

This practice is not limited to Lewiston only. At the age of 21, my first voting experience was by absentee ballot from my hometown of Lewiston. Even in 1968, I was approached to register on Election Day, give my Bangor address and vote without the Bangor voter registration board knowing that I had already cast a ballot from Lewiston.

This practice is nothing new, and for anyone to think otherwise only shows how disconnected some people are to the realities of how elections can be “stolen.”

Michael McClure

Lewiston

Desire for assisted suicide entirely a personal choice

First, this is not a Christian nation, but one that holds church and state separately, and therefore belongs as much to Hindus, Jews, atheists, Buddhists, humanists and whoever else may reside here. Therefore, any appeal to religion is irrelevant to law. Religion is a private matter entirely.

Second, I doubt if the recently departed Norman Morse, or most others who yearn for the legality of assisted suicide, would approve of society deciding that someone should die.

That’s just a fear tactic dragged in by opponents of assisted suicide. What I and many others wish to have is the right to end my own life if I choose to.

Each life belongs to only the one person living it. It is cruel not to aid someone who freely wishes to ease into death. Anyone who has been sick with an incurable illness, with no hope for recovery, knows the terror of not being able to escape.

We wouldn’t allow our pets to suffer such a fate. How incredibly inhumane that we must.

Nancy O’Hagan

Portland

If Congress has failed, so has Sen. Olympia Snowe

In your paper, Sen. Olympia Snowe states that she was sorely disappointed by the recent failures of Congress (“Snowe says U.S. Senate is paralyzed by politics,” Aug. 6). Does she realize she is a part of that Congress?

She talks about tax reform, but at no time did she support the president in his call for tax reform. I watched the voting on C-SPAN and Sen. Snowe consistently voted the party line, or should I say the tea party line. They have taken over the Republican Party and no Republican will stand up to them.

She said it was unfortunate that everything is concentrated in political messaging, which is what she is doing when she calls for a balanced budget amendment. The tea party has long called for a balanced budget amendment.

I watched the final debt ceiling vote in the Senate and the senator did not vote until after there were enough votes to pass the debt ceiling and then she voted.

It is time our Republican senators emulate the late, great Sen. Margaret Chase Smith and stand up in the Senate and speak against the demagoguery that is ruining the Republican Party. I think there is a speech already written that they can use.

Thomas E. Perry

Bath

GOP has turned its back on ‘compassionate conservatism’

Whatever happened to “compassionate conservatism”? When I think about that term, which was bandied about during the George W. Bush era, I’m reminded of a common scene in the sitcom world in which a small group of guys is gathered.

Their talk turns to self-improvement and they all agree they’re going to work to improve themselves, to be better men. There’s a moment’s pause and then they all burst out laughing. “Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen!”

So, think — “compassionate conservatism” … pause … laughter — like that’s ever going to happen!

There seems to be a widespread lack of compassion in the Republican ranks. For example, there’s the lame-duck session of Congress last December when the Democrats were trying to extend unemployment benefits for the millions who lost their jobs due to the recession (which the Republicans created).

The Republicans were opposed to extending benefits and held out for tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. It’s the same now regarding cuts to social programs that low income folks and the elderly depend on.

The Democrats are pushing for no cuts, the Republicans want deep cuts in these programs and tax breaks for — guess who? The wealthy and corporations! Of course, I totally understand where the Republicans are coming from — they must, by all means, maintain fealty to their corporate overlords.

At this point in our current political situation, I’ve come to understand what it must have felt like for the early Romans as they watched their civilization decline. As an aside, a big part of that decline was Rome’s involvement in several wars being fought far from home. That seems to have a familiar ring to it.

So, the obvious conclusion drawn from Republican actions these days is that the term “compassionate conservative” is an oxymoron. Hopefully, at some point in the near future, the spirit of the party of Lincoln will return and that will be corrected.

David Dawn

Auburn

Smoke detectors far less costly than home sprinklers

A story in the July 17 Telegram presented pros and cons for home fire sprinkler systems. The state Fire Marshal’s Office estimated that home sprinklers cost between $5,000 and $10,000 to place in a new home. The cost for installation in existing homes is presumably much higher.

The Census Bureau says there were 128,203,000 individual housing units in the United States in 2007. If I multiply that number by an average cost per system of $7,500, the total cost is $961 billion. If I divide that number by the annual 2,565 home fire fatalities as reported in the story, the cost per life saved per year, if sprinklers saved every life, is $375 million.

By contrast, I estimate the cost per life saved per year from installing smoke detectors would be about $200,000. I would hope that any municipality would conduct a cost-benefit analysis on home sprinkler systems before imposing this new tax on home construction.

It appears more lives can be saved for much less money.

Wayne W. Duffett, P.E.

Portland

Wind turbines will despoil beauty of Maine’s mountains

Former Gov. Angus King’s position in a Sunday Telegram column advocating wind power would have been more convincing if he were not to benefit personally from its implementation (“Energy choices and the No Free Lunch principle,” June 5).

I will leave the strong arguments against wind power in such areas as costs, subsidies and efficiency to those more expert than I.

My opposition is one of aesthetics. To spoil the mountains and ridges of Maine with protruding 400-foot towers with rotating propellers and blinking lights is a mistake that will make future generations ask, “What could they have been thinking?”

King skipped lightly over the effect on our important tourist business. Do we really think people will come to Maine to see the pretty towers on our mountains?

Why not put our efforts into solar, tidal, hydro and even offshore wind that won’t forever impair the majestic beauty of our Maine hills and mountains?

Charles L. Sawyer

Yarmouth