In this Oct. 5, 2021, file photo, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Credit: Alex Brandon / AP

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Everyone who has graduated from high school in America can remember being taught that fundamental to a democracy is access to free and fair voting. Lose that, lose everything.

According to numerous news sources, the Republican Party in several states is seeking to rewrite voting rules, seemingly in order to make it easier for supporters of Republican candidates to vote and more difficult for supporters of Democratic candidates to vote.

I guess their theory is, if you cannot win elections by fielding reasonable candidates offering sensible policies, then win them by denying the vote to supporters of your opponents. It’s weirdly logical. But my guess is, there is no planet in the universe where that could be described as “free and fair.”

Susan Collins’ position on this question is that states should be allowed to have election rules that “work best for their citizens.” She does not specify which citizens; does she mean all citizens, or just Republican citizens? Not clear. And does she apply that standard to all states, or just those where Republicans are encountering difficulty marketing their values? And would she extend it to other fundamental values, like free speech? Gun ownership? Or just when and where Republicans are stumbling over themselves?

It’s hard not to wonder, if this were April 1861, and Abraham Lincoln was struggling over slavery in the southern states, would Collins’ advice to the president be that states know what works best for their citizens?

Stefan Nadzo