Show appreciation for poll workers

Our election clerks and poll workers are facing immense challenges, from a global pandemic to the spread of disinformation. Add in the usual challenges of local governance—inconsistent funding, changing laws, evolving voter behavior—and the job seems positively overwhelming.

Yet without fail, our elections are conducted efficiently and smoothly. As a longtime member of the League of Women Voters of Maine, I have seen firsthand the invisible labor that this requires. Some clerks, like Tody Justice here in Scarborough, even go above and beyond by offering extended hours for early voting and distributing a Voter Guide with links to election details and ballot item summaries.

Despite these herculean efforts, two Oct. 20 articles in the Portland Press Herald highlight the public’s continued underappreciation of those who administer our democratic processes.

One article noted that despite no evidence of widespread election fraud, “only about half of Americans have high confidence that votes in the upcoming midterm elections will be counted accurately.” Another article that same day noted that Maine’s US Attorney felt the need to publicly state that “election officials and staff must be able to serve without being subject to unlawful threats of violence.” I cannot imagine the dedication and courage it takes to not only continue to serve, but to do your job well, under these circumstances.

When you vote during this election season, please thank your clerks and poll workers for their hard work ensuring that Maine remains ranked among the best states in the nation for election administration.

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Melissa Hanley Murphy
Scarborough

Vote yes on library expansion

To the editor,

Our library is bursting at the seams with activity and resources, and with more space, could do so much more for all of us. A ‘yes’ for the library’s bond is a ‘yes’ vote for community.

Where do we meet up with neighbors in common cause? The library. Where do we shelter safely during storms and extended power outs? Where do we seek relief when it’s extremely hot or cold? The library. Where can we look for work or get online if we don’t have internet at home? The library. The long overdue expansion plan includes more meeting rooms and quiet corners for a discreet chat about resources, help filing taxes, getting tips for accessing digital resources, a place to meet our neighbors.

Now is the time to make this timely investment: please vote ‘yes’ so the library is able to serve our community now and in years to come.

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Steffi Cox
Project GRACE

Town promotion of yes on library vote unfair

To the editor,

We expect our towns to inform us when and where to vote. While that’s important civic information, towns cross the line when they try to tell us how to vote.

Yet that’s exactly what the Town of Scarborough is doing with the $12.9 million library expansion bond. If you go to the Town’s website — paid for by our tax dollars — it not only tells us when and where to vote, but also how to vote, by linking to the Scarborough Public Library’s one-sided expansion website. Even more troubling is that the link appears on the homepage of the town clerk — an office we expect to be neutral in elections.

With all the recent attention to our electoral process, it’s deplorable that the Town of Scarborough isn’t demonstrating the neutrality we expect from the people who run our local elections. Shame on Town officials for this abuse of the public trust.

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Debbie Gates
Scarborough

To the editor,

Scarborough voters expect town officials to help us exercise our right to vote, not to tell us how to vote. This fall, the Town fell short by issuing an online “Voter Guide” promoting a $12.9 million bond for the expansion of our library.

This Guide contained helpful information on where, when, and how to vote, and a link to sample ballots, but it also included a link to the Library’s website promoting the expansion. This crosses the line and puts the Town in the business of electioneering using our tax dollars. In addition, the Town Clerk’s website, which we demand be neutral in elections, includes a similar link.

Very simply, official election communications from the Town must be neutral and not tell voters how to vote. This year, our Town has failed to live up to that standard. Voters beware.

Susan Hamill
Scarborough

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To the editor,

I am writing regarding the promotional rack card paid for and distributed to my home by the Vote YES for Scarborough Library Committee.

One of the selling points is that the library expansion will “protect seniors and others living on fixed incomes for $35 a year.” The copy goes on to state “Without expanding the library, we deprive people living on fixed incomes of some of the most important free services in town: access to books (traditional, electronic, audio), computers and Internet, programming, language and skills development, warming/cooling center, hurricane shelter, and much more”.

Really? I love the library, but is the Vote YES committee saying these already taxpayer-funded services would be taken away from seniors if the referendum doesn’t pass? Come on. Must we resort to spreading misinformation and scare tactics to get a key demographic to vote for a supersized expansion that’s more than Scarborough needs or can afford?

Alyson Bristol
Scarborough

Vote for Stacy Brenner as state senator

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To the editor,

Having 10 years of experience as a state legislator, including Senator for Gorham/Scarborough/Buxton, I know what it takes to be effective in Augusta. Stacy Brenner has shown that she has all the necessary leadership abilities to get essential work done.

Her warm, collegial work style, along with her deep knowledge and understanding of the core issues, brought bipartisan support for addressing critical environmental, health care and economic crises. Stacy models the way for others to follow enabling others to act with respect and courage to make wise choices.

Sen. Brenner’s background in sustainable agriculture and health care have provided her with a wide breath of knowledge. She stands up and speaks out with conviction, wisdom, and compassion. Sen. Brenner has earned deep respect and recognition for the hard work needed to move our state forward.

Please follow my lead voting for Stacy Brenner.

Linda Sanborn
Gorham

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Get rid of bottle and can deposits

To the editor,

Is it time for Maine to join the 42 states that use the simple and cost efficient approach of curbside recycling to address what appears to be a program that has outlived its usefulness? Judging by what I’ve seen in Saco and Scarborough, the “Clynk Program” is obviously overwhelmed, most likely due to understaffing and the closing of other redemption centers. The bottle and can deposit approach used by Maine and seven other states was probably implemented before curbside recycling became commonplace, and it seems to have outlived its usefulness. People who litter will most likely throw their beer and soda cans out the car window regardless of the deposit. Just take a walk along Pine Point Road! And what happens to all those green bags? Do they end up in a landfill? And how much extra pollution is produced by the trucks transporting the green bags when there are already trucks picking up our other recyclables every week? Lets free up the trucks and drivers so that a dent can be made in the statewide shortage of drivers. And how many cans/bottles purchased in deposit-free NH are turned are redeemed in Maine just to collect the deposit?

John B. Coleman
Scarborough

Thanks to volunteers

To the editor,

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On Sept. 23 and Sept. 24, in celebration of National Public Lands Day , the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge hosted volunteer work days at Kelly Field and Libby Field in Scarborough, Maine. National Public Lands Day– the nation’s largest single day volunteer effort for public lands – celebrates the opportunity American citizens have to give back to the public lands where we explore and rejuvenate. Each year, Rachel Carson NWR takes part in NPLD; this year, volunteers at Rachel Carson NWR worked to restore shrubland habitat for the New England cottontail, Maine’s only native rabbit.

The New England cottontail rabbit is listed as state endangered in Maine, with the population estimated to be only 300. Its numbers have dropped dramatically over the past 50 years throughout its range due mainly to habitat loss and fragmentation. The cottontail depends on dense thicket habitat in order to hide from predators and forage for food. Healthy thicket habitat is steadily disappearing and being degraded in Maine. As this thicket habitat disappears, so do the animal species, like the cottontail, that depend on it.

The staff at the Rachel Carson NWR express their deepest gratitude to the volunteers who spend their time and energy tackling conservation projects such as restoring thicket habitat for endangered species. This year, volunteers who participated in the NPLD event at Rachel Carson NWR were able to plant over 1,800 native Maine plants, a feat that would have taken the limited Refuge staff months to accomplish.

Thomas Wall
Visitor Services Manager
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge