Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson: Ensuring Absentee Voting Smart, Safe Measure

GOP lawmakers, including President Donald Trump, have continued to push back on Michigan mailing absentee ballot applications to voters.

Video emerged from Kentucky’s primary election this week, showing voters pounding on the locked doors of the only polling location in Jefferson county.

“We’re watching what is happening in other states — good or bad — and using that to really bolster our own efforts to make sure people can vote safely.” — Jocelyn Benson, Michigan Secretary of State

The voters demanding access to the polling place were eventually let in to cast their ballots, but the incident still raised concerns over voting access. Worries of voter suppression coupled with the health and safety concerns of voting in-person amid a pandemic has left many wondering what upcoming elections in Michigan will look like. 

Listen: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on safe voting and upcoming elections. 

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET


Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says that the state is continuing to expand its vote by mail capabilities for the upcoming fall elections and is looking to other states’ elections as examples.

“We’re watching what is happening in other states — good or bad — and using that to really bolster our own efforts to make sure people can vote safely,” says Benson. She points to her statewide mailing of absentee applications as a start in ensuring widespread safe voting in Michigan. “I wanted to make sure that everyone got an application and that everyone had an equal chance and equal information on how to request to vote by mail,” says Benson. 

The Secretary of State’s expansion to absentee voting hasn’t come without substantial pushback from Republican lawmakers. Benson says she has become weary of speaking before the Senate Elections Committee, headed by former Secretary of State and current state senator Ruth Johnson. “I am a little hesitant to give credence to an abuse of authority and using a position to circulate misinformation and cause people to fear elections and cast doubt on the process itself,” says Benson.

Despite her concerns, Benson says she believes in accountability and will continue to answer questions the committee may have. 

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