Michigan Secretary of State makes push for major election reform

' I also believe in making data driven decisions,’ Jocelyn Benson said

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson pushed for sweeping changes to the state’s elections on Monday.

She also reiterated that the election was safe and secure. Among the changes she pushed for, were things like starting true early voting and prohibiting deceptive election practices and requiring a statewide audit before making the results official.

There could be some changes coming to Election Day itself. Assistant Secretary of State Hester Wheeler said during an online briefing on Monday, that moving the May and August elections to a single June election was being considered. He said making Election Day a holiday to make it easier to vote and volunteer is also part of the legislative agenda.

There were also hot button issues from last year discussed. Such as requiring absentee ballot applications be mailed to every registered voter, allowing clerks to start processing ballots two weeks before Election Day and allowing mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day or just after to be counted. There was also the talk of banning guns within 100 feet of polling places, all were things Republicans pushed back on in the run up to the last election.

“I believe wholeheartedly in the principles of bipartisan consensus and cooperation. I also believe in making data driven decisions about the best policies to put into place,” Benson said.

Some Republicans indicated that they thought Benson’s proposal and call for compromise rang hollow.

“Our focus must be on improving transparency, protecting election integrity and restoring the public’s trust -- not on constitutionally questionable proposals that advance the secretary of state’s own political agenda,” Rep. Ann Bollin (R-Brighton) said.

“Her pronouncements this afternoon were just another indication of the go-it-alone strategy that’s been popular in the Whitmer administration. No, the Speaker has no comment,” Wentworth’s press secretary Lynn Afendoulis said in an email.

The agenda comes as the state waits for one of the largest statewide election audits of more than 200 precincts and 18,000 ballots. The deadline for clerks to complete the audit was Jan. 25, but Benson’s office said they are still working to compile the completed audits. The results are expected sometime this week.

Despite calling for changes, Benson also said the election was safe and secure calling it one of the smoothest elections in recent memory. At one point she accused some legislators of working to undermine voting rights. She also called on Republicans, without naming them, who have been spreading falsehoods about the state’s election process to stop.

“Their task is simple. Tell voters the truth,” she said.

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