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Benson, Nessel ask Legislature for election resources

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel want the Legislature to adopt tougher laws to help protect Michigan elections from meddling and threats.

Michigan Department of State
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel participate in a voter education town hall for students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus.

The two officials made the request in testimony this week before the state House Elections Committee. Nessel said threats against election officials and poll workers are threats against democracy and should be automatic felonies.

“We need good people to serve in those positions and we’re not going to have good people serving in those positions if they are subject to threats against themselves or threats against their family members,” she said. It’s absolutely unacceptable.”

Nessel also said the Legislature should ban guns at polling places and where absentee ballot counting boards do their work. The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled the state’s open-carry gun law allows people to bring firearms into voting areas.

Amending the open-carry law was a non-starter under Republican control in the House and Senate. Democratic majorities in the Legislature could be more receptive.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.