Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced her new legislative agenda for elections in a press conference Monday. The agenda calls for sweeping changes, many with the goal of making it easier for Michiganders to vote.
Many of the proposed changes focus on absentee ballots: they would require absentee ballot applications to be mailed every federal election cycle, require counting of ballots postmarked by Election Day and received shortly after to be counted, and allow the processing of absentee ballots to begin two weeks before Election Day.
Other changes include making Election Day a state holiday, prohibit open carry of firearms within 100 feet of polling places, and require training to be an election challenger or an election worker.
Benson says the 2020 election, with its historic levels of voter turnout, was key in shaping the new agenda and allowed the administration to build on its successes and lessons learned.
"We looked at the data from last year's elections, best practices from across the country, the confidence in our system demonstrated by voter registration and turnout trends, and the expanded rights voters themselves placed in our state consitution, and sought ways to improve our systems and advance their will," she said.
Benson also wants to prohibit deceptive election practices that deter or mislead voters, and says this data-driven new agenda has been crucial in combatting attempts to undermine democracy.
"There is no evidence of wrongdoing in last year's election, and it was in fact the most successful and secure election in our nation's history," she said. "Here in Michigan, we will not be sidetracked by these deceitful attacks on our democracy, for the will of Michigan voters is clear: they want elections that are strong, secure, and accessible."
When asked what Republicans in the state legislature would think of the agenda, Benson said she was looking forward to input from politicians across the political spectrum.
"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, especially when you’re working to ensure the integrity and accessibility of our democratic process," she said."I’m hopeful that we can work from the same set of facts in determining the best way to advance the vote and protect our democracy."