Benson says Roe draft opinion could put voting rights “in jeopardy”

Benson also says accusations of petition fraud against multiple GOP candidates for governor could “potentially” have criminal implications.

Some experts say the recently-leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade could have implications for other rights. That includes the right to vote.

“There’s a warning signal, as well, hidden in the words that other long-held rights or protections or freedoms — up to and including the fundamental right to vote — may also be in jeopardy based on the courts reasoning in this draft opinion.” — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is among those worried about the broader implications of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion — which is not yet final or official.


Listen: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Roe v. Wade draft opinion, Tuesday’s elections, and more.

 


“As a former law dean, as well, I look at the draft opinion with a lot of concern, because the basis is on overturning the constitutional right to privacy, which is the same basis used in other cases to enable marriage equality and several other freedoms that our country has now adopted to,” says Benson, who previously served as the dean of Wayne State University’s law school.

“It’s also the same reasoning that, in other cases, has found voting to be a fundamental right under the Constitution,” she continues. “And so I think there’s certainly the direct impact of what this draft or ultimate final opinion may bring for the country and for women and for people everywhere. But there’s a warning signal, as well, hidden in the words that other long-held rights or protections or freedoms — up to and including the fundamental right to vote — may also be in jeopardy based on the courts reasoning in this draft opinion.”


Related: Efforts to keep abortion legal in Michigan


Accusations of fraudulent GOP petition signatures

Benson also discusses recent challenges to signatures for Republican candidates for governor.

Democrats and some Republicans claim that former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson turned in fraudulent petition signatures. Challengers say they should be disqualified from the ballot.

Democrats are also challenging conservative media figure Tudor Dixon’s paperwork due to an apparent error in the header of her petitions.

The secretary of state says investigations are ongoing inside the Michigan Bureau of Elections and no conclusions should be made at this point. But she says there are “potentially” criminal implications if signatures are found to be fraudulent.

“If the some of the allegations of fraud turn out to be accurate, there certainly will need to be ramifications for that. Because I have no tolerance for those who would misuse or abuse the elections process at all, in this this in particular,” says Benson.

“So we can expect referrals to law enforcement and the Attorney General if indeed there are potential things that evidence suggests we should refer. And, beyond that, we’ll allow the facts to drive us forward and the investigation to play out, or the response to the challenges to play out.”


Related: The 10 Republicans running for Michigan governor


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