I was flabbergasted to read Sen. Susan Collins’ Aug. 11 op-ed, in which she writes: “It is telling that Russia’s efforts are not aimed at one candidate or one political party.”

Did Sen. Collins not read the declassified report on Russian hacking by the director of national intelligence? This report, prepared by the U.S. intelligence community, concluded:

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016. … We further assess (Russia) developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

Is Sen. Collins not aware of this report? If she is aware, does she not trust it, or is she just choosing to ignore it for political expediency? Any of these options is a dismal indictment of her character and her ability to lead Maine and protect elections.

Sen. Collins also boasts she sponsors the DETER Act, claiming Russia will be deterred from acting in 2018 elections if there are “severe consequences.” Should we believe this when the current administration repeatedly ignored the 2017 Russia Sanctions Review Act?

And why not only deter, but also prevent, an attack? Just this month, Sen. Collins voted against granting $250 million to states for election security. And Sen. Collins has not supported the use of hand-marked, publicly counted paper ballots, which is the gold standard to prevent election interference.

Sen. Collins prides herself on being a centrist who brings people together. I wish I could see her that way now. Instead, she exacerbates the divide by ignoring the 2016 support her party received from Russia. In a democracy, secure elections are not a partisan issue. Sen. Collins should focus on that point and pledge her full support for funding election security and implementing paper ballots. Instead, she stoked the political and social divisions she claims to abhor.

Wendy Richards

South Portland

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