Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, leaves following a vote as the Senate continues to grapple with end-of-year tasks and the future of President Joe Biden's social and environmental spending bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

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Sen. Susan Collins apparently believes voting laws should be left up to the states. Maine has generous voting laws — it is easy for most people to cast a ballot in our state. That’s great — but what if that’s not the case in other states? Or if other states are gerrymandered so a person’s vote won’t really count? In a federal election for Congress and president, how can the citizens of Maine expect their vote to count if other states are rigging those systems by making it harder for people to vote?

According to the Guardian, the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance recently added the U.S. to an annual list of “backsliding” democracies for the first time in its annual report. The report says: “A historic turning point came in 2020-21 when former President Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election results in the United States.” The country’s voting rights are being attacked.

Restrictive voting laws, dark money spending, eliminating bipartisan election boards and gerrymandered districts are threatening our democracy. The Freedom to Vote Act would set national standards to protect access to the vote, end partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, begin to overhaul the campaign finance system, and create new safeguards against subverting the electoral process.

For Collins to essentially say that voting rights should be a state issue is convenient and short sighted. I believe other states’ election laws will affect whether Maine citizens’ votes count in federal elections.

Mary Smith