In 1840, a member of the Maine House of Representatives who wanted to keep in touch with his constituents faced limited options.

He could write a letter, publish a newspaper or go visiting on horseback or by sailing ship.

Since the arrival of the railroad, however, the options have changed dramatically. The number of legislators has not.

Which does not make a lot of sense. In an age of video conferencing, email and 24/7 wireless access, Maine is still bringing the same number of representatives and senators to the capital, and still paying to house the ones who travel a long distance, as we did before the telephone was invented.

Several bills now before the Legislature would amend the constitution and reduce the sizes of the House and Senate. To pass they need two-thirds support in both bodies and the people’s approval on Election Day. We should get a chance to vote on this.

The concept has been attacked by those who say it would shift political authority away from rural Maine. This is not true. As long as the districts are still drawn based on population, every Maine resident will still have the same voice in Augusta. If there is any shift in influence, it comes from Mainers moving away from rural districts, not by reducing the number of districts.

We have some reservations about reducing the size of the Legislature. We would be opposed if it meant a move to a professional Legislature, or one where legislators rely on staff.

We also don’t think that reform should end with a reduction of the number of people serving in the two houses. A more disciplined Legislature that did not submit every bill requested by a constituent would be more focused and cost-effective. A screening process that made it easier to kill bad legislation before it occupied committee time and a floor debate would also be an improvement.

But as a message to the public that we all have to learn how to do more with less, and as a recognition that institutions have to change with the times, reducing the size of the Legislature makes sense.