Support online voter registration

To the editor,

As a Maine citizen, I am very proud of the engagement of our voters and their high rates of participation in elections, even in the most challenging of times. I believe that we can further encourage and support Maine citizens’ engagement and participation by adopting an online voter registration (OVR) system, as has been proposed by recently introduced legislation.

In 2020, mailing times were slowed for a variety of reasons, delaying the processing of voter registration applications, and potentially disenfranchising those who wished to vote, especially first-time voters.

Recent proposals to “re-vamp” the postal system would do little, if anything, to improve future mailing times. OVR is a decades-proven system used in other states that streamlines the process of registration and eliminates the need for reliance on the overburdened postal system.

OVR also reduces the opportunity for human error, using data validation to correct errors before submission, ensuring that only correct data is submitted to clerks, and eliminating the need for manual data entry by clerks. Voter information would be encrypted, so private information would stay private. As an additional benefit, the implementation of OVR would allow the state to forego the cost of printing, scanning and processing voter registration forms each year.

Please contact your legislators to encourage their support for OVR – As other states are moving to restrict voter access Maine can continue its leadership role in voter participation and engagement by implementing OVR to make registering easier for voters and officials while reducing costs and increasing data security at the same time.

Melissa Murphy
Scarborough

What are your thoughts about the pace of residential growth in Scarborough? Too fast? Too slow? About right? Growth and change come with mixed feelings. You may be excited over the prospects of growth and the benefits that may come along with it. Or you may be concerned about the impact to our schools, town services or the overall character of Scarborough.

The Scarborough Town Council is currently taking action to modify the Growth Management Ordinance (GMO) which was enacted in 2001 and has undergone six revisions. The GMO sets the pace of new residential construction by determining how many growth permits can be distributed each year. All available residential growth permits for 2020 were issued by the end of that year. In 2021, all available permits were issued within the first month. The Council is currently considering action to enact changes to how the GMO works, including issuing additional permits for this year.

Your voice matters! Please take a couple of minutes to complete our survey at https://tinyurl.com/3yun5pyx to share your thoughts. If you prefer a paper copy, please contact us directly. There are no right or wrong answers and your input will be of great value to us. You may also email or call us at [email protected] (703-946-0385) and [email protected] (207-619-0211) to share your thoughts.

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Scarborough Town Council or the Town of Scarborough.

Jon Anderson and Betsy Gleysteen
Scarborough

Survey should come before critical development decisions

To the editor,

Watching Scarborough’s town government at work is a fascinating activity. And sometimes it’s very frustrating. For example, consider last week’s article in the Leader by Town Councilor Ken Johnson in which he asks for more public input on matters before the Council and announces a major resident satisfaction survey to be conducted this fall.

Even if you aren’t tuned in to town affairs, you are probably well aware of the explosive growth in housing that has occurred in the last 3-4 years. For that same extended period, the town’s staff, the Council and its various committees have been grappling with this issue by trying to update both the Comprehensive Plan and the Growth Management Ordinance. Both these documents will help define what Scarborough will look like over the next decade.

So far there have been innumerable meetings and workshops, lots of discussions but no tangible results. In the meantime, residential growth, both apartments and single-family homes, have continued to sprout like dandelions on a spring lawn as developers have been given free rein. Unfortunately, taxpayers have provided the fertilizer for many of these developments via huge tax breaks to developers.

Now, at last, the Town Council appears poised to finalize both these documents by the end of June. But here’s the frustrating part: the coming community-wide survey of resident attitudes about the town and its future won’t be conducted until the fall of 2021 – after the finalization of the Comprehensive Plan and the Growth Management Ordinance. So the plan is to adopt a critical growth strategy for the town… and then ask residents for their input. In what universe does this make sense?

For now, growth continues largely without constraint. And one fact is undeniable: developers remain firmly in control of Scarborough’s growth and development while the town fiddles.

Steve Hanly
Scarborough