To the Editor:
In explaining her vote against S. 1, the “For the People” voting rights act, Senator Collins argued that it “would take away the rights of people in each of the 50 states to determine which election rules work best for their citizens.”
Like the historian, Heather Cox Richardson, I find it chilling to hear this kind of argument, which was used for over 150 years to enable “white southern legislators to cut their Black neighbors out of the vote in the 1870s and then pass Jim Crow laws that lasted for more than 70 years . . . How is it possible to square states’ rights and equality without also protecting the right of all adult citizens to vote?”
States should, of course, determine which election rules work best in their circumstances – but within limits. The Federal government has a duty to ensure that the voting rights of all citizens are guaranteed in every state and that the local laws never make it easier for one group to vote than for another.
Following her current logic, Senator Collins would have been compelled in 1965 to fight the Voting Rights Act that helped end Jim Crow and segregation in Mississippi, Alabama and elsewhere.
In this case, she is block voting with her party at the expense of being on the right side of history.