Question 1 on Maine’s July 14 ballot will ask voters for their support of broadband expansion in rural Maine.

Although most sectors of the economy have not done well during this crisis, there is one that has. Digital is the big winner. Expanding the digital transformation is essential to making sure that people and communities are not left out as the recovery process begins.

The first of three areas positively impacted is the economy. With adequate internet access, employees can work from home. Businesses can reach their customers, promote products or interface with suppliers.

Second, expansion can help ensure that the students who live in rural Maine have the same educational opportunities as their urban counterparts. While urban communities were able to continue to hold regular classes via zoom, many in rural Maine were not.

Third, telemedicine can bring medical specialists to anyone with an adequate internet connection. Although in-person visits with patients will always be preferred, much can be assessed visually, and digital data can be transmitted with the proper interface. This option is essential when visits to medical facilities carry their own risk.

Funding from this bond issue will be matched by federal funds and investments made by local communities. Those investments will assure that communities are not left behind as Maine recovers from COVID-19.

I hope others will join me in voting “yes” on Question 1 on July 14.

Jan Collins, East Wilton

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