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.

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”?

Steven D. Pease

Lexington Township  

State tax cut does no favors for middle-income earners 

I take exception to the letter of Oct. 7 by Rep. Jim Parker, R-Veazie, in which he takes credit for the recent state income tax cut (“Is state headed in right direction?”).

If the purpose of the income tax cut was to pull 70,000 low-income Mainers off the tax rolls, then I am all for helping low-income people.

If the purpose was also to help middle-income people, then the tax cut is a failure for most middle-income earners. With the reduction in state revenue sharing following the state income tax cut, most property taxes have risen to make up the difference.

The tax cut is smoke and mirrors for most middle-income earners. I am all for a reduction in our almost-highest-in-the-nation state income tax rate. I doubt, however, that Mainers will get any real tax relief for a long time, as the economy and state of industry here simply won’t support it.

Lee M. Tabenken


Corporate personhood lets businesses control politics 

Our ancestors instituted the United States Constitution as a means of ensuring personal liberty. They realized that this document was not perfect, but they set it as the cornerstone of our government in the hands of “We the People.”

Since then, the document has been perverted and subverted by people in positions who are required to take an oath to protect and defend it from all enemies both foreign and domestic.

Corporations were seen at the time as a necessary evil that should be regulated by the state in which each corporation held its charter. Charters were readily dissolved at the time, and the boards of those corporations were completely liable for any damages that were caused.

Corporated personhood has been the engine of the majority of this perversion. Greed is responsible for the rest. Our Supreme Court added to this perversion with the Citizens United decision.

A corporation is an entity that is established on paper, not a person, yet in the late 1800s the false idea began to get its support within our government. It fueled the ideology that led to our involvement in all wars and conflicts since.

The speech and booklet “War is a Racket” were written by a recipient of two Medals of Honor, and they explain the complexities of the corporate and profit motives of war. It is a vehicle by which a small few can realize profits of 10 percent to 1,000 percent greater then what is possible with peace.

We now have a true government run by sponsors of corporatism. It has been taken away from “We the People.” It owns the leadership of our two parties, which place candidates who serve corporatism over their oaths of office.

Timothy Bickford


Lawmaker’s name merits proper pronunciation 

Being of French descent myself, it irritates me to hear the name “Michaud” mispronounced.

I tell people, “You know how to pronounce the words ‘show’ and ‘me.’ Just reverse those two words — ‘me show’ is the correct pronunciation of the name ‘Michaud.’“

Elbridge Gagnon