Polar Opposites: A Tale of Two Very Different Maine Senators

4 mins read

Our democracy is under attack. Sen. Angus King gets that; Sen. Susan Collins does not.

On Jan. 6, President Donald Trump and his supporters tried to overthrow our government, attempting to stop the peaceful transfer of power. Angus King wants to find out how that happened; Susan Collins wants to move on.

The Big Lie continues—the idea that somehow the election was stolen. Angus King calls out these lies; Susan Collins sits silent.

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. Angus King understands that; Susan Collins does not. 

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. Angus King supports this bill; Susan Collins does not.

Susan Collins 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 it’s not 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 Brennan Center for Justice, 33 laws enacted so far in 2021 have various impacts on voting, including but not limited to making mail voting and early voting more difficult, imposing harsher voter ID requirements, and making faulty voter purges more likely.

New criminal laws will deter election officials and other people who assist voters from engaging in ordinary, lawful, and often essential tasks. People in Georgia can now be charged with a crime for handing out water or snacks to voters waiting in line at the polls. In Iowa and Kansas, people could face criminal charges for returning ballots on behalf of voters who may need assistance, such as voters with disabilities. And in Texas, election officials could face criminal prosecution if they encourage voters to request mail ballots or regulate poll watchers’ conduct.

And with gerrymandered redistricting following the 2020 census states like Texas are redrawing district maps to make it nearly impossible for there to be a fair election in the state. Districts that were more evenly matched for Democrat versus Republican are clearly now set up so that a Democrat could never win the district. Other states are doing the same. 

For Sen. Collins to say that voting rights should be a state issue is woefully ignorant. Other states’ election laws affect whether the citizens of Maine’s votes count in federal elections.

I think Collins’ mentor Margaret Chase Smith would roll over in her grave today if she could see how Susan Collins sits silent as our democracy crumbles. Angus King gets that; Susan Collins does not.

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Mary Smith is a retired Maine resident who formerly had long-standing careers in Human Resources consulting and publishing. Since retiring, Mary has become an active civic-minded citizen.

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