November 18, 2012

Letters to the editor: Voting laws don't fulfill purpose

What happened to the two U.S. citizens of Somali origin whose right to vote was questioned by a poll watcher ("Somali women challenged at Auburn polling place," Nov. 6) highlights the ability of one individual to, without consequence, question his peer's right to vote and the misplaced burden of proof: on the voter, not the challenger.

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Laws that require voters to obtain government ID to cast a ballot and that allow "almost anyone" to "challenge another's right to vote" are obstructionist and don't help officials ascertain a voter's identity, a reader says.

2011 File Photo/Shawn Patrick Ouellette

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There are no standard qualifications to be a poll watcher or to be granted the ability to challenge another's right to vote.

On Election Day, in Maine, almost anyone can challenge another's right to vote.

Voter ID laws attempt to address this problem. There are approximately 34 states that require voters to show photo ID. Some are "non-strict" laws, and others are very demanding.

The two Somali-born U.S. citizens were allowed to vote after swearing they were citizens. No little thing: A false claim to U.S. citizenship is grounds for deportation.

These laws and challenges fail their purpose: to ensure voter identity.

They obstruct one's right to vote by permitting another to easily challenge it without consequences for an unfounded challenge, and there are no established grounds for challenge.

Are we a society based upon paranoia or trust? If based upon trust and the trust is violated, then the perpetrator should be prosecuted. But to allow anyone for any reason to obstruct another's right to vote due to their language, appearance or political opinion invites anarchy.

These laws are not rational. They range from simple affidavits to the presentation of photo IDs. Without proof of widespread fraud, there is no reason for vigilantes on the poll line.

Because cards are easily fabricated, the laws restrain honest people and not people intent on committing fraud.

Requiring a government voter's ID should place the burden on the government to provide everyone with the ID. The failure to do so should be cause for action against the government.

Mark Russo

immigration attorney


Wind projects threaten natural beauty of Maine 

I've traveled across the United States, hiked in the Rockies, fished the Yellowstone and Flaming Gorge and camped in the Tetons. Returning home I realized that, although different, Maine has the same beauty: clear streams and lakes, mountains rising above the horizon and the solitude of the loon echoing across the ponds.

We have it all -- but unless we change state policy, we won't have it for long. We're rapidly losing it to industrial wind development on Maine's mountains.

Kibby I. Stetson I & II. Mars Hill. Beaver Ridge, Fox Island, Record Hill, Spruce Mountain, Rollins Mountain, Rocky Dundee and Bull Hill. These projects dominate Kibby Township, Danforth, Stetson, Mars Hill, Freedom, Vinalhaven, Roxbury, Woodstock, Lincoln, Lee, Burlington, Winn, Township 16 -- and adjacent towns.

Other projects in some stage of the development process include Kibby II/Sisk Mountain by Chain of Ponds. Bowers Mountain in Kossuth and Carroll Plantation. Oakfield, near Island Falls and Mattawamkeag Lake. East Grand Lake.

Moscow, adjacent to Caratunk. Bingham, Mayfield, Kingsbury, Abbott and Blanchard. Highland Plantation. Lexington and Concord townships. Canton.

Saddleback Mountain in Carthage, dominating views from Mt. Blue State Park and Webb Lake. Passadumkeag Mountain. Pisgah Mountain in Clifton. Colonel Holman Mountain in Dixfield. Alder Stream Township.

This is just the beginning.

The developers range from small and independent to huge and global, all targeting Maine because the 123rd Legislature gave this industry favored status and because Congress is handing out billions of dollars in "free" money -- which taxpayers are providing.

This round is only the first. Before Maine is forever altered in order to provide electricity for -- and satisfy the "renewable" mandates of -- neighboring states, shouldn't we give serious consideration to the importance of preserving that which makes "Maine -- the way life SHOULD be"?

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