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Don’t step backward with voting rights

The new Texas voting law bans county officials from employing a number of previously used voting options. BDN columnist Matt Gagnon sees the new restriction as preventing voting fraud and declares that, because there are many ways to vote in Texas, any protest against eliminating one or more of them is just left-wing politics.

But the practices being outlawed had been used in the 2020 election without widespread incident. (The great Republican voting fraud hunt of 2020 found nothing widespread.) And while the Texas law will not prevent people who are determined to vote to cast their ballots, making it easier, not harder, to vote should be in the interest of all Americans. Unless, of course, someone believes that more people voting will lessen your chances of being elected.

When the United States was founded, voting was  restricted to white men who owned their own land. In short order, property qualifications were eliminated and then far more slowly, the right to vote was expanded to include African American men, all women, Indigenous Americans and 18- to 21-year-olds. But in the South, post-war Jim Crow regimes prevented Black Americans from voting in defiance of their legal right to do so under the 15th Amendment. Today, some of these ex-Confederate states are in the vanguard of those enacting restrictive voting laws.

Over our nation’s history, it’s been a justifiable point of American pride that our democracy has widened and deepened through the expansion of the right to vote. Laws that make voting more difficult are an antidemocratic step backward.

John N. O’Shea


Staff vaccinations better protect residents

It was sad to learn that Tom Nelson and his elderly mother, Lorraine, face a great hardship due to the closing of a Bingham nursing home. It is also sad that he would think Gov. Janet Mills’ mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for health workers is mainly to blame for the closure.

Maine’s governor has demonstrated principled leadership on this public health issue. Here in Hancock County, 14 residents at Deer Isle’s Island Nursing Home tragically died of COVID l ikely first transmitted by a staffer. I’m sure Nelson and all Mainers want their loved ones to reside in safe nursing homes. Simple fact: when the staff of these facilities are inoculated with COVID vaccine, vulnerable residents have better protection from the terrible disease.

John Epstein


Resolving disputes

The current conflict over masks in schools has reached my town and surrounding communities. As a retired psychologist, it reminds me of intense family conflicts about irreconcilable principles that can sometimes be triggered by easily resolved disputes.

For example, some couples have come into marital counseling on the verge of divorce; and the issue that was actually triggering the dispute was which way the toilet paper unrolled from the holder! Another example was to buy separate tubes of toothpaste to resolve this issue of whether toothpaste should be squeezed from the bottom or the top of the tube!

I understand that  in France, the pandemic has brought relief to many who are pleased to no longer be expected to kiss on the cheeks in greeting because they hated the smell of bad breath from some of their friends or family.  In Japan, there is increased interest in oral hygiene and visits to dentists as a result of universal masking that makes people more aware of the smell of their own breath.

Perhaps if schools were to place a dispenser of mouthwash and small paper cups next to the hand sanitizer at the entrance (with a hygienic spittoon nearby), wearing a mask would be less objectionable and our community/family dispute on this issue would be reduced. Better yet, use some pleasant-smelling mouthwash before leaving home with the mask.

Douglas Kimmel